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New York terror attack suspect Sayfullo Saipov had visa Trump wants to end

New York officials say Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric will spur more terrorist attacks.
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New York terror attack suspect Sayfullo Saipov immigrated to the U.S. on a lottery-based visa program in 2010. Photo: File

As President Donald Trump began blaming Democrats and open-border policies for the immigration program that allowed Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbekistan native who allegedly drove a truck down a New York City bike path killing eight people, to enter the U.S., New York City Gov. Bill de Blasio called the president out on "anti-Muslim" rhetoric, saying it could fuel future another terror attack.

“The bottom line is we – anyone who wants to come in this country should be very thoroughly vetted as an individual but the minute you start generalizing it, especially to a whole religion, then unfortunately, we’re sending the exact negative message that a lot of our enemies want and the terrorists want to affirm – that this nation is somehow anti-Muslim,” de Blasio said on CNN on Wednesday.

Less than 24 hours after the deadliest terror attack to hit New York City since 9/11 Trump was on Twitter pushing his agenda to crackdown on immigration.

"The terrorist came into our country through what is called the 'Diversity Visa Lottery Program,' a Chuck Schumer beauty," Trump tweeted. "I want merit based."

"We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter),” Trump continued.

Trump’s “merit-based” immigration plan would drastically cut immigration and limit visas to people who are highly educated or can afford multi-million dollar investments in the U.S.

Saipov entered the United States in 2010 under the Diversity Immigrant Program, reported ABC New York. The program awards 55,000 green cards a year, typically to people from African and Eastern European countries that have historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.

The program Saipov applied to the program in 2008 alongside 153,661 other applicants and was granted a green card two years later. He had about a 2 percent chance of earning the visa. Program applicants are required to have at least a high school diploma or two years of work experience within the last five years.

The program has come under threat five times since 2007 and Trump is currently backing a bill that would end the program.

Senate Minority Leader from New York Schumer hit back on Twitter, calling Trump out for “politicizing a tragedy.”

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“Always believed & cont. to believe that immigration is good for America. Pres Trump, instead of politicizing & dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of natl tragedy, should focus on anti-terrorism funding which he proposed cutting in his budget,” Schumer tweeted.

Until last year, Uzbekistan has been under authoritarian rule since it was freed from the Soviet Union in 1991 and is considered one of the most oppressive nations in the world. ISIS is known to have a presence in Uzbekistan, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, and recruits from the east-Asian nation.

Immigrants from such nations are often prime targets for radicalization, Erica Marat, a Central Asia expert at the College of International Security Affairs, told Newsweek.

“Patterns of radicalization for Uzbeks are somewhat similar to that of migrants from other countries, an inability to fit into the society where they live, an inability to live the American dream. So they are looking for ways to belong and extremist narratives seem to be the most attractive,” she said.

 
 
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