News Analysis: Trump aims to halt diversity visas to fight terror, but experts have mixed views

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-03 10:55:18|Editor: ying
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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Days after a Halloween terror attack that killed eight people, U.S. President Donald Trump aims to shut down the U.S. "diversity visa" program. But experts differ on whether the move will make the country safer.

Earlier this week, a terrorist in New York City drove a truck into a crowd of people, killing eight and injuring 11 others, in a move taken right from the playbook of the Islamic State (IS), a terror group that has conducted deadly attacks worldwide. Among the dead were nationals of Argentina and Belgium, in a city that is a tourist draw for people worldwide.

The suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, who immigrated from Uzbekistan, has allegedly said he is proud of what he did, and said that he has pledged allegiance to the IS group.

The killer came to the United States in 2010 under a special program known as the "diversity visa," which allots a certain amount of visas to people from countries where people typically don't immigrate to the United States.

Trump is now pushing to end the program, but experts have mixed views on the president's move.

Radio pundit Dana Loesch told Fox News on Thursday that the president is correct in his calls to end the "diversity visa" program.

The terrorist, she said, was allowed to bypass a lot of immigration law due to the visa program.

"We need to make sure U.S. citizens are safe. It's completely fair for a country to reduce those numbers or even end the program," she said.

Some experts don't think pulling the plug on the visa program will reduce the number of terrorist attacks in the United States.

"Ending the 'diversity visa' program won't stop terrorist attacks," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

"Most of those who have engaged in terrorism did not come to America through that program. There is no evidence that particular program is responsible for people with bad intentions," West said.

Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of Congress and the Presidency, told Xinhua that while the attacker did enter the country under the "diversity visa" program, the investigation indicates that his radicalization took place while he was already in the United States.

Mahaffee said other factors besides the attacker's visa are more important to stopping future terror attacks.

"The way the IS propaganda moves through social media, and how the FBI and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies can better track lone wolf threats, will be more important" in stopping terror threats, Mahaffee said.

Speaking about the Halloween attack, Trump told reporters at the White House earlier this week that he would "ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program."0 "We have to get much tougher," said Trump, speaking about his belief that tougher immigration laws would help prevent future terror attacks.

"We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We're so politically correct that we're afraid to do anything," Trump said.

Indeed, that sentiment reflects the opinions of some on the conservative end of the political spectrum, who believe lawmakers are reluctant to take action against terrorism for fears of offending certain religious or immigrant groups. Some contend that few other nations in the world have to deal with such restrictions.

The "diversity visa" program is a lottery that picks up to 50,000 individuals to legally enter the United States, who can later get permanent residence status.


Trump's supporters heavily back his plans to get tough on illegal immigration, as well as to more heavily vet individuals who legally enter the United States. Rightly or wrongly, they blame illegal migrants for taking American jobs and driving down wages in blue collar jobs. They also worry about terrorists sneaking into the country by legal means, which has happened previously in the United States.

Still, Trump's supporters are seeking a complete overhaul of the country's broken immigration system, which has allowed 11 million illegal migrants into the country.

"(Trump's) supporters may see this as a tough move on terror and immigration, but they are likely looking for a broader approach to immigration that is more restrictive beyond this visa program, and that cracks down on the southern border and other more prominent visa programs," Mahaffee said.

While Trump's supporters back the president on the matter, others don't agree.

"Trump' s supporters love his tough talk on immigration, but the rest of the country is not persuaded," West said. "His poll numbers have dropped over the past year, and many question his ability to lead effectively."