On Wednesday, President Trump attacked the diversity visa program, which offers 50,000 visas a year, alleging that it was how the suspect in the Manhattan attack came to the United States.
“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump said on Twitter, pushing instead for a system that would give preference to highly educated individuals who are considered more employable. “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).”
Later, Trump told reporters he was “starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program.” He added that “we have to get less politically correct,” and although the program “sounds nice,” he said, “I’m not nice.”
Despite its name, though, the diversity visa program was initially intended to make the flows of legal immigrants to the United States more closely resemble the demographic profile of existing American citizens—admitting more Europeans to the United States.
Schumer did play a key role in the creation of the program, which was partially rooted in a bill he drafted in 1990. But four years ago Schumer, along with a bipartisan group of senators, proposed repealing the program. In 2013, the Gang of Eight tried to overhaul the nation’s immigration system by, among other things, eliminating the diversity visa program. “I guess it’s not too soon to politicize a tragedy,” Schumer said on Twitter.