By Maya Valentine
Last week, eight people died and 11 were injured in what is considered to be the deadliest terror attack in New York City since 9/11.
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, rented a Home Depot truck on Tuesday, Oct. 31, and drove it along the Manhattan Hudson River. According to the New York Times, Saipov crashed into a school bus after plowing over cyclists.
He exited the truck and called out, “God is Great” in Arabic, waving a pellet gun and a paint ball gun before being shot by New York Police Department (NYPD) Officer Ryan Nash in the abdomen.
Saipov was radicalized by ISIS after viewing videos of the group. Originally from Uzbekistan, he became a permanent resident of the United States in 2010.
The Halloween-day tragedy sparked debate over the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a program that allowed Saipov American citizenship.
This program was designed to grant American citizenship to countries with low U.S. immigration rates. The bill was signed by former Republican President George W. Bush in the 1990s. It was originally intended to help Irish immigrants and, according to an article from “The Atlantic,” favored “ [immigrants that] closely resemble[d] the demographic profile of existing American citizens.”
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website says that the program allows up to 50,000 immigrant visas a year. More recent data shows that most Visa recipients were from Africa and Europe. According to the website, Uzbekistan citizens made up of 2,378 of the over 15,000 European immigrants.
President Donald J. Trump tweeted about the program in the wake of the attack. In a statement, President Trump said, “I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program, diversity lottery, diversity lottery. Sounds nice, it is not nice, it is not good. It hasn’t been good and we have been against it.” Trump called for a “merit based” entry instead.
Even though the bill was passed as a bipartisan effort, President Trump blamed New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer for the bill in a series of tweets. Senator Schumer responded, “I guess it’s not too soon to politicize a tragedy.” Senator Schumer is also known for calling a repeal of the bill a few years ago.
According to “Al Jazeera,” immigrant rights activists say Trump’s quick demands are “punishing millions for the actions of one individual [are] ‘insane.’”
Trump demanded more legislative action towards the New York attack than on the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting, where 58 people died and over 500 were injured.
Of the people killed were five Argentines, one Belgian mother of two, and two Americans. The five Argentine citizens were known as close friends. They were visiting New York as a celebratory trip. Their bodies arrived back in Buenos Aires on Monday. A funeral was held for Darren Drake, a man from New Jersey, on Monday morning.