Reports claim that the 29-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan, who brutally murdered eight people in Manhattan yesterday afternoon, managed to enter the United States via the so-called Diversity Visa Lottery program, a virtue signaling project of Chuck Schumer that President Trump and the GOP have sought to end.
Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, is an apparent “soldier of ISIS.” He deliberately plowed his truck through a crowd of people in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City on Tuesday. Reports are now revealing that he moved to the U.S. seven years ago. Through the Diversity Visa program and obtained a Green Card entitling him to permanent residency in the country.
The Diversity Visa Lottery program awards 50,000 American visas to randomly selected foreign nationals each year. Many of them from known Islamic terrorist hotbeds, such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Uzbekistan. Applicants need to “prove” they have no criminal record, have at least a high school diploma, and two years or more of work experience within the last five years. Although vetting that “proof” has been an ongoing issue.
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
Critics of the program claim it is an obvious threat to the safety of U.S. citizens, since it arbitrarily awards random, typically unskilled foreign immigrants with visas. President Trump has been calling for an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery since August last year, aiming to replace it with the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, drafted earlier this year.
In February 2017, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the RAISE Act in order to:
“…amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a skills-based immigration points system, to focus family-sponsored immigration on spouses and minor children, to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, to set a limit on the number of refugees admitted annually to the United States, and for other purposes.”
Republican Senator Tom Cotton told Breitbart News, “The diversity lottery serves no discernible humanitarian or economic interest. It is a policy that has far outlived its usefulness and it really doesn’t even serve diversity since Europe is one of the primary users of it.”
He added, “Even in past efforts at amnesty-first comprehensive immigration reform like we saw in 2013 and 2007, most people agree we should eliminate the diversity lottery. I think it’s a policy that has far outlived its usefulness if it ever had any utility and it’s time to eliminate the diversity lottery.”
The Democratic Party along with many establishment Republicans have been working hard to block the RAISE Act, which would put an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery. After President Trump issued his most recent list of immigration reforms, Democrats released a statement claiming the White House administration “cannot be serious” with such proposals.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Saipov showed his gratitude for the Diversity Visa Lottery program and his free U.S. Green Card. Driving a rented Home Depot truck at high speed down a New York City bike lane, killing eight and injuring 11 others, before slamming into a school bus. He then got out and waved a pellet gun around shouting “Allahu Akbar” before being shot in the abdomen by a police officer.
Opposition to the Diversity Visa Lottery is not new, not solely a Trump immigration issue nor simply a reaction to this terrorist attack. In testimony before Congress in 2011, the Center for Immigration Studies National Security Policy Director Janice Kephart spoke about how damaging the potential for this visa was and how unsuited it is for keeping Americans safe.
She said, “The Diversity Visa Program is an unfortunate blind spot in our immigration system that has outlived whatever purpose it might have had.” In her testimony in 2011, Kephart explained, “The applicants for these 50,000 ‘visa lottery’ immigration slots require few skills. Neither their qualifications nor identity can be properly vetted. The program does not know, really, who these applicants are or their true purpose in coming to the United States. The program is a national security vulnerability and has been used by terrorists and organized criminals to not only enter the United States but to bring others in as well.”
“In most of the countries eligible for a diversity visa, neither education nor work experience can be verified, let alone identity.” Kephart continued, “Consular officers in U.S. embassies abroad thus spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to determine if people are who they say they are and actually qualify for the program. Checking watch lists based on names or prior U.S. immigration histories thus often has little bearing on making a solid determination of identity, qualifications, or legitimate national security concerns.”