According to law enforcement sources, Sayfullo Saipov (29) who is alleged to have killed eight persons in a terrorist attack in New York City came to the U.S. on a "diversity" visa. Saipov drove a rented pickup truck down a bike path in Manhattan along the Hudson River, mowing down his victims and crashing into a school bus on the day that children were released early for Halloween trick-or-treating. Mayor Bill de Blasio qualified it as a terrorist incident.

Saipov cried out “Allahu akbar!” before being shot and detained by police. Muslim terrorist literature was found at the scene. He came to the U.S. in 2010, having won the lottery for diversity visas. Saipov reportedly had moved recently to New Jersey from Florida, where he resided for several years. He had also lived for a time in Ohio. He is married, and has two children. Despite the carnage caused by Saipov's actions, establishment media such as NBC News expressed concern over the "backlash" expected against Muslims. Saipov's rampage resembled similar attacks in other Western metropolitan cities such as Barcelona, London, Stockholm, Jerusalem, and Paris.

President Donald Trump tweeted in the aftermath that he wants to eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery, which grants 50,000 visas annually to a number of countries. Those include countries where terrorists abound: Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Yemen, and Uzbekistan.

Trump has joined Republicans such as Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sen. David Perdue of Georgia since August to bring the diversity lottery to a close. Under the RAISE Act, introduced in February and endorsed by Trump, the Diversity Visa Lottery would be eliminated altogether. Some activists are calling on Trump to end the program by executive order. Sen. Cotton told Breitbart News that the program does not serve any “discernible humanitarian or economic interest.” Back in 2011,  Center for Immigration Studies National Security Policy Director Janice Kephart testified before Congress that “The Diversity Visa Program is an unfortunate blind spot in our immigration system that has outlived whatever purpose it might have had.” Kephart noted that the applicants’ qualifications and true identity cannot be properly ascertained. She added that the program has been used by terrorists and criminals to enter the U.S. and bring family members as well. Because the standards for the program are so low, she said, it is rife with fraud. 

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has frequently locked horns with President Trump, joined Democrats in deriding Trump’s immigration proposals. This week, McCain said that he had failed to read Trump’s 70-point immigration priorities, which include the elimination of the Diversity Lottery. 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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