President Donald Trump blamed runaway “extended family chain migration” for allowing the Bangladeshi Muslim suspect in Monday’s New York City terrorist attack to emigrate to the U.S. and obtain the right to work. The president called on Congress to reform the American immigration system. The administration said that Akayed Ullah came to America from his native Bangladesh in 2011, utilizing an F43 visa, which allows entry to the siblings of American citizens.

In a statement, the president declared, “America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.” He stated, “Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.” Trump has often stated his opposition to allowing criminal aliens to remain in the country. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of the Department of Homeland Security has made their apprehension a priority. In a tweet on Sunday, the president wrote: "No American should be separated form their loved ones because of preventable crime committed by those illegally in our country. Our cities should be Sanctuaries for Americans -- not for criminal aliens!" He and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have also frequently criticized cities offering sanctuary to illegal aliens by refusing to honor detainer requests issued by the federal government.


"The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America's security and economy has long been clear," read the president's statement. "I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first," the statement continued.

Akayed Ullah is alleged to have detonated a pipe bomb, injuring himself and three others in the name of the Islamic State. He came to the U.S. in 2011 after obtaining an F43 family immigrant visa. According to the White House, he is a lawful permanent resident who was just one of 141,501 Bangladeshi immigrants admitted to the country through chain migration since 2005. Ullah and his mother were sponsored by an uncle. Chain migration happens when immigrants enter the country when an American citizen family member sponsors them. Critics of the practice fear that an endless flow of family members may thus enter the country. Between 2005 and 2015, about 9.3 million new immigrants came to the U.S. on the basis of family ties.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at her Monday press conference that President Trump's “policy has called for an end to chain migration. If that has been in place, that would have prevented this individual from coming to the United States.” She added, “The president is aggressively going to continue to push forth immigration reform and ending chain migration will certainly be a part of that process.” 

The F43 visa

F43 is a classification of the documentation of immigrants and nonimmigrants by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The classification is for immigrants to the U.S., such as the child of a sibling of an American citizen who is at least 21 years old. The terrorist in Ullah and his mother came to the U.S. because of his uncle’s sponsorship. Emigrating just months before his twenty-first birthday, Ullah would not have been able to immigrate legally at the age of 21 under the F43 designation. As a permanent resident, Ullah also can petition for family members, such as a spouse, unmarried children under age 21, and unmarried children of any age to obtain immigrant status in the U.S.

The Jordan Commission

In the mid-1990s, Bill Clinton established a presidential commission to study how to end illegal immigration. Headed by respected Civil Rights era leader and former Democrat congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Texas, the commission's recommendations included the enactment of a “comprehensive strategy” based on improved border security to prevent illegal entries; improved worksite enforcement of the ban on employment of illegal immigrants; and speedy removal of illegal immigrants detained in the country. 

There was no mention by the Jordan Commission of a need for amnesty or a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants living or working in the country. It was adamantly opposed to “to the implementation of a large-scale "guest worker program for lesser-skilled and unskilled workers." The commission also articulated that a “credible” immigration policy must meet serve the nation’s interest and that “people who should get in do get in; people who should not get in are kept out; and people who are judged deportable are required to leave."

"Unless there is a compelling national interest to do otherwise, immigrants should be chosen on the basis of the skills they contribute to the U.S. economy. The Commission believes that admission of nuclear family members and refugees provide such a compelling national interest, even if they are low-skilled.  Reunification of adult children and siblings of adult citizens solely because of their family relationship is not as compelling," said Jordan in 1995 as part of the commission’s findings.

When Clinton welcomed the Jordan Commission’s report in 1997, the report was heavily criticized by religious groups, Latino and Asian American advocacy organizations, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Since then, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced legislation this year that would end chain migration based on the Jordan Commission's recommendations. Titled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act (S. 354), the bill would reduce legal immigration by up to 50 percent by ending future chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.

President Trump's statement Regarding Today's Attack in New York City:

Today’s attempted mass murder attack in New York City—the second terror attack in New York in the last two months—once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people.

First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for President, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.  Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.  My Executive action to restrict the entry of certain nationals from eight countries, which the Supreme Court recently allowed to take effect, is just one step forward in securing our immigration system.  

Congress must end chain migration.  Congress must also act on my Administration’s other proposals to enhance domestic security, including increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, enhancing the arrest and detention authorities for immigration officers, and ending fraud and abuse in our immigration system.  The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America’s security and economy has long been clear.  I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first.

Second, those convicted of engaging in acts of terror deserve the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty in appropriate cases.  America should always stand firm against terrorism and extremism, ensuring that our great institutions can address all evil acts of terror.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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