Kira Barrett ‘18
Assistant News Editor
A man identified as Sayfullo Saipov killed eight people and injured 11 after driving a pickup truck down a bike path in Manhattan on Halloween. The victims included tourists from Argentina and Belgium, as well as two Americans.
Saipov, 29, was apparently influenced by online videos posted by ISIS. According to The New York Times, officials do not believe that Saipov was directly involved with the terrorist organization but was “inspired” by it.
During the attack Saipov yelled, “Allahu akbar,” which in Arabic means, “God is great.” Soon afterward, he was shot in the stomach by police officer Ryan Nash.
Saipov moved from his home country Uzbekistan to the United States in 2010 through the Diversity Lottery Program. This program has been in place since the 1980s.
According to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, the program aims to help those who wish to emigrate “from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.”
In a series of tweets following the attack, President Trump put blame on the program, calling it a “Chuck Schumer beauty” and renaming it a “Democrat Lottery System.” On the same day, Trump tweeted his support for a “merit based immigration” system, which he believes will help prevent similar terror attacks in the future.
The Washington Post reported Trump said of the Diversity Lottery Program, “It sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good.”
Soon after the President blamed Senator Schumer, it came to light that Schumer was in fact against the program, not for it.
In 2013, Schumer was a member of the “Gang of Eight,” a group comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans that wrote the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. The bill never passed but part of it called for the termination of the Diversity Lottery Program.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, himself a member of the “Gang of Eight” fired back at President Trump on Twitter, “…had the Senate Gang of 8 bill passed the House, it would have ended the Via Lottery Program AND increased merit based visas.”
This merit-based immigration plan awards prospective immigrants points based on their age, education, employment prospects and so on. CNN reported that there are even “bonus points” available to those who have won a Nobel Prize or an Olympic Medal. Only those who reach 30 points are eligible to apply.
This selective process would ensure that essentially anyone who wishes to enter the country must be well educated, of prime working age and fluent in English.
Democrats have been outspoken about their disapproval of the plan.
“Their proposal abandons the fundamental respect for family, at the heart of our faith, at the heart of who we are as Americans,” Nancy Pelosi said the day following the terror attack in New York.
The bill has yet to be passed and is believed to be unlikely to pass in the foreseeable future.