WASHINGTON (AP) — Saying “we will stop this craziness,” President Donald Trump called Wednesday for tougher, “Merit based” immigration measures following the deadly truck attack in New York City that killed eight people and injured 11.
Trump said on Twitter that the driver in Tuesday’s attack “came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty.”
Officials said the attacker is an immigrant from Uzbekistan who came to the U.S. legally in 2010. They haven’t said whether he came in through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which covers immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.
Trump also tweeted, “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).” Trump has backed legislation that would curb legal immigration and shift the nation toward a system that would place an emphasis on merit and skills over family ties.
The tweets followed Trump’s Tuesday night statement that he ordered the Department of Homeland Security “to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program.” Trump’s extreme-vetting policy on immigrants entails more stringent investigative measures intended to identify those who may sympathize with extremists or pose a national security risk to the United States.
The diversity visa program provides up to 50,000 visas annually by lottery. Applicants must have a high school diploma or meet work experience requirements. It was created as part of a bipartisan immigration bill introduced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and signed into law President George H.W. Bush in 1990.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat then a member of the House of Representatives, proposed a program for “diversity immigrants” in a bill he offered earlier that year.
Schumer said in a statement Wednesday that he has “always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” adding that Trump is “politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy.” He said Trump had proposed cutting anti-terrorism funding in his most recent budget.
“I’m calling on the president to immediately rescind his proposed cuts to this vital anti-terrorism funding,” Schumer said
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the president’s tweets. Trump cited “Fox and Friends” on Twitter as he attacked Schumer and the program Wednesday morning. Trump added: “We will stop this craziness.”