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Trump calls for an end to Diversity Visa Program he says allowed NY terror attack suspect into US

Suspected terrorist Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov plowed down a New York cycle path on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11. Police shot the suspect in the hip and he was taken into custody. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump announced during a news conference at the White House Wednesday that he is working to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program.

In an early morning tweet, the president said the suspect behind Monday's deadly terrorist attack in New York City entered the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010 under the Diversity Visa Program. Officials are calling this the deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since 9/11.

The attack left eight people dead and at least 11 injured Tuesday when, authorities say, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov plowed a rented Home Depot truck down a bike path along the Hudson River, striking pedestrians and bicyclists, the New York Times reported. Police shot Saipov, 29, in the hip and took him into custody. Officials said he had been planning the attack for weeks. The suspect is expected to survive his injuries.

The president called out Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who played a role in the Diversity Visa Program, which was enacted in 1990.

Saipov is connected to an address in Tampa, Florida, but had most recently been living in Paterson, New Jersey, with his wife and three children and working as an Uber driver, according to WABC-TV.

Uber confirmed that Saipov worked as an Uber driver and that he passed a background check. He has since been blocked from using the app, WABC reported.

"We are horrified by this senseless act of violence," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. "Our hearts are with the victims and their families. We have reached out to law enforcement to provide our full assistance."

WABC also said he was also a registered statutory agent for two Ohio-based trucking companies.

In another tweet Trump said "We are fighting for more Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems ..."

What is the Diversity Visa Program?

The Diversity Visa Program is a lottery that grants up to 50,000 visas to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S., according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

It was part of the Immigration Act of 1990, originally introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1989, that Republican President George H.W. Bush signed into law on Nov. 29, 1990. It was considered the first major change to U.S. immigration laws since 1965, according to Laws.

How did Schumer respond to Trump?

"President Bush in a moment of national tragedy understood the meaning of his high office. ... President Trump where is your leadership?" Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "The contrast between President Bush's actions after 9/11 and President Trump's actions this morning could not be starker."

"President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America ... should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution: anti-terrorism funding," according to The Hill.

Schumer also tweeted, "calling on the president to immediately rescind his proposed cuts to this vital anti-terrorism funding."

Are there any moves in place to end the Diversity Visa Program?

Republican Sens. David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) unveiled in August legislation that calls for the program to be eliminated.

The RAISE Act, Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, endorsed by Trump is a merit-based system that prioritizes highly skilled immigrants and matches them with the workforce's current needs, according to the Washington Examiner.

Both Perdue and Cotton have criticized the current immigration system, the Examiner said.

Did anyone else respond to Trump's tweet?

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake also pounced on Trump with a counter-tweet.

Flake tweeted that "the Gang of 8, including @SenSchumer, did away with the Diversity Visa Program as part of broader forms. I know, I was there."

Flake, an open Trump critic, recently announced he will not seek re-election next year.

"Gang of Eight" is a term used for a bi-partisan group of senators, four Republican and four Democrat, who wrote the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013.

The bill, if it had become law, would have done away with the Diversity Visa Program, but it also included a pathway to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants, which was met with opposition among Republican groups.

The bill passed the Senate on June 27, 2013, by a vote of 68-32.  However, the House didn't act on the plan, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

One last thing…
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