Eliminating the immigration visa program used by the man behind Tuesday’s ISIS-inspired terror attack in New York City to enter the U.S. could be damaging to African and Caribbean immigrants, among other foreign ethnic groups. The Senate has unsuccessfully pushed to overhaul the Diversity Visa program and make it more merit-based for years, but now President Donald Trump is renewing those efforts while blaming the Democratic senator behind the initiative that brings about 55,000 immigrants to America each year.
Both the NAACP and Black lawmakers have admitted there are problems with the visa program, but not enough to end it entirely.
“With respect to the abolishment of the diversity visa lottery program, the CBC is extremely concerned that it might limit the future flow of immigration for people from certain parts of the world,” New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries told the Hill in 2013. “That’s troublesome, and we’re evaluating the merit-based visa proposal to determine if it’s fair and balanced.”
Still, at the time, Jeffries called the proposal to change aspects of the visa program “a significant step in the right direction.”
Opponents of the program were blaming former President Barack Obama and Democratic Congressman Charles Schumer, but the visa has been offered since 1988, when Ronald Reagan was president before George H.W. Bush succeeded him. Still, scholars asked “How did such a bizarre program that contradicts the philosophy of American immigration admissions become a temporary, and then later a permanent part of the Immigration and Nationality Act?” in research published in 2002.
The State Department recently revised the registration period for applying to be in the 2019 Diversity Visa lottery because of a “technical issue.” Applicants now have until November 22 to submit their materials for consideration to be included in the lottery. The previous date was October 18.
Some users on social media echoed the president’s sentiments to end the pro-immigration visa program that brought Sayfullo Saipov to the U.S. seven years before he killed at least eight people and injured more than a dozen others by driving a truck into bike riders, pedestrians and a school bus carrying young students.
However, others saw some potentially racist irony in Trump’s immediate call for immigration reform following Tuesday’s attack by a Uzbekistan national compared to the president’s silence on gun control following the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas last month.