The ISIS-allegiant terrorist who killed eight people on the streets of New York City on Tuesday traveled from Uzbekistan to the United States in 2010 under what’s called the Diversity Visa Program, a little-known scheme where the federal government goes looking for migrants whose home countries are poorly represented here in the U.S. How or why this program benefits our country is unknown and inexplicable, but it certainly helped Sayfullo Saipov to get here and unleash his reign of Islamic terror only a few blocks from the World Trade Center.
The program, which is run by the State Department, works as a lottery system that allows people from countries with few immigrants living in America to get their shot at a green card. On Wednesday, in light of the terrorist attack, President Trump blasted the program as another Democrat-endorsed mistake that was undermining the country’s security.
“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump tweeted. “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).”
To be sure, the attack is an argument in favor of the administration’s endorsed RAISE Act, which would limit U.S. immigration only to those travelers who have something tangible to offer our country. There is no cogent explanation for the benefits of the DV program, which makes as many as 50,000 visas a year available to individuals in a process of random selection. As long as you have a clean criminal record and a high school diploma, you have a chance at getting to stay in the United States. Why? Because we don’t have “enough” people from Uzbekistan in our country? Who says?
The program was indeed introduced into law in 1990 by Sen. Schumer when he was a member of the House of Representatives. It was voted into law and signed by then-President George H. W. Bush, which is a good reminder that when it comes to ridiculous immigration programs, Republicans have been just as bad as Democrats. Regardless of who was originally responsible for this program and others, though, it is incumbent on Trump and our current Congress to right the wrongs of the past. Is everyone who comes to the U.S. through this diversity program a would-be terrorist? Obviously not. But we may as well patch the leaks that are in the spotlight.