This week on Tuesday, Halloween afternoon, the first ISIS inspired terrorist attack in the country since President Trump took office took place in New York City, on Manhattan’s lower west side, in the shadow of the World Trade Center Memorial. The culprit, an Uzbek immigrant, rented a truck and drove it along a bike path killing 8 and injuring several others. He originally entered the U.S. in 2010 through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which allow immigrants from countries with lower immigration rates the opportunity for lawful permanent residence, or green card.
The president’s immediate response to the attack was a statement calling for a quick repeal of this immigration program as well as stricter immigration enforcement. He was also quick to lay blame on Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, however, his fellow Republican, George H.W. Bush was the one responsible for signing the program in law. Trump also attacked the U.S. justice system for his alleged lack of strength calling it “a laughingstock.” He went on to call the 29-year-old suspect “an animal” and made comments that he would consider sending him to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of facing trial in New York. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee stated that the suspect has been labeled an “enemy combatant” but a decision had not been reached whether they would move him to the military detention facility. Later, however, New York state prosecutors filed charges against the suspect in federal court where he will face trial.
Trump has further ordered the increase in drastic scrutiny of immigrants calling it “extreme vetting” but there has been no comment from his administration regarding how he intends to implement this goal.
Support of Trump’s condemnation of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program was echoed by Senator John Corny, a Republican from Texas, agreeing with the president that the program is indiscriminate regarding how people are permitted to enter the country. He echoed Trump’s call for a merit-based system of immigration.
Trump has tried to block entry into the country from citizens of certain Muslim countries, all of which have been reversed by federal judges. The administration has been working to improve information sharing with certain countries, developing additional requirements for entry into the U.S. including the use of new passports that are less likely to be falsified.
Following the attack Trump tweeted that he has ordered Homeland Security to enact an Extreme Vetting Program, but officials could not give any further information on what the president was referring to.
When Trump ran his campaign for president in 2016, he spoke of a total ban on Muslim immigration into the country, before he softened his hardline approach and began a call for “extreme vetting.” Trump has been working on as well as backing legislation that will greatly decrease all legal immigration and move toward an immigration system that would be merit and skill based, rather than the family petitions and diversity programs currently in place.
On Wednesday, following the attack, the president again reiterated his feelings about “chain immigration” stating that it must be stopped immediately. He went on to state that people who enter should not be allowed to bring their entire family with them, some of whom may be “truly evil” and that the current immigration system is “not acceptable.”