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President Calls for End to Diversity Visa Lottery

Following Tuesday’s terrorist attack in lower Manhattan in which eight people were killed and approximately a dozen more injured, President Donald J. Trump has called for termination of the Diversity Visa Lottery. 

The suspect was identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, an Uzbek immigrant who entered the U.S. in 2010. According to CNN, the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed he entered on a diversity visa. He is accused of deliberately driving a rented pickup truck down a bike path, mowing people down. When the driver emerged from the truck, he fired a pellet gun before being shot by a police officer.

President Trump has stated emphatically that he is going to ask Congress to immediately terminate the Diversity Visa Lottery. He repeatedly said he wants to implement a merit-based immigration system.

In a series of tweets President Trump blamed New York Senator Charles Schumer for the Diversity Visa Lottery, which allocates approximately 50,000 visas annually to citizens of countries from which there is a low rate of immigration to the U.S. These diversity visas enable recipients to get lawful permanent residence and is a path to U.S. citizenship.

Schumer was part of the original 1990 legislation that created the program, but also was part of the 2013 Gang of Eight bill that passed the Senate, which included removing the diversity lottery program. Arizona Republican, Senator Jeff Flake, tweeted that had the Gang of Eight bill been signed into law, it would have done away with the diversity visa program.

Schumer has publicly denounced the President’s remarks. Others said the President is taking advantage of a tragedy to politicize the situation. 

Republican Senators Tom Cotton from Arkansas and David Perdue from Georgia have introduced a bill that would not only eliminate the diversity visa lottery, but also certain family-based categories. It will place the emphasis on employment-based visas that favors highly educated and highly skilled workers.

It is important that individuals contact their representatives in the House and Senate to voice their opposition to the proposed changes to immigration.