Trump pushes Congress to end visa lottery program after NYC terror attack

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK -

President Donald Trump is vowing to end a visa lottery program that, he says, paved the way for the alleged lower Manhattan attacker to enter the United States.

The president took to Twitter this morning to say, "The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based."

This afternoon he took it one step further and called for Congress to "immediately initiate work to get rid of this program." 

"This man that came in, or whatever you want to call him, brought in with him other people, and he was the primary point of contact for — and this is preliminarily — 23 people that came in or potentially came in with him," said President Trump. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wasted no time answering back, asking "Where is your leadership?" 

"I think the president ought to stop tweeting and start leading. The American people long for leadership – not divisiveness, not finger-pointing, not name calling," he said on the Senate floor. 

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made a point Wednesday afternoon to say the president has not blamed Sen. Schumer for the attack, but went on to say that there are policies that the administration believes could be put in place that help better protect American citizens.

Republican Rep. Peter King said that there is "nothing inherently wrong" with the Diversity Visa Lottery Program as long as "they're subjected to vetting." 

The program provides up to 50,000 visas annually by lottery. It was created as part of a bipartisan immigration bill and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

Yigit Eryildiz told News 12 Long Island that he came to the U.S. from Turkey through the program in 1995. The father of three now lives in Babylon and has owned his own barbershop for nine years now. 

He says getting rid of the program would hurt a lot of families' dreams, but he also says he understands why President Trump may think shutting it down would be a good idea.

"It's that 1 percent that's bad makes all of us look bad," said Eryildiz.
 

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