politics

Trump Says New York City Bombing Shows Need for Tougher Immigration Laws

Updated on
  • Trump wants to end ‘chain migration’ family unity preferences
  • Suspect entered U.S. on family immigration visa in 2011

Police stand in a closed-off underground walkway near the site of a pipe bomb explosion in the tunnel that connects the Times Square subway station to the Port Authority bus terminal on Dec. 11, 2017, in New York City. 

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Donald Trump said that Monday’s New York City bombing shows the urgency of tightening immigration laws as his spokeswoman argued the administration’s policies would have kept the suspect out of the country.

“America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country," Trump said in a written statement. "Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security."

The 27-year-old suspect, Akayed Ullah, was wearing a pipe bomb that exploded Monday morning in a subway station near New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, injuring himself and three others, the authorities said. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a Twitter post that the suspect was admitted to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 on a family immigrant visa.

Trump has for months spoken out against immigration preferences for U.S. residents’ family members, which he calls “chain migration,” arguing that the U.S. should give greater weight to the value of skills potential immigrants would bring to the country.

“I don’t think any Republican would vote for anything having to do with leaving chain migration. Chain migration is a disaster for this country and it’s horrible,” he said in a Nov. 2 interview with Fox News Channel.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders went further, arguing that the suspect would never have made his way to the U.S. had Trump’s immigration proposals been in effect in 2011.

“If his policy had been in place, then the attacker would not have come into the country,” Sanders said at her daily White House press briefing.

Trump said Monday that lawmakers should also approve his administration’s proposals to bolster domestic security, including increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. He also said that his executive action to ban entry to people from eight countries, a list that includes several countries with Muslim majorities but doesn’t include the Monday attacker’s home country of Bangladesh, must continue to be enforced.

"The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America’s security and economy has long been clear. I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first," Trump said.

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