politics

Trump Calls Immigrants With Lottery Visas ‘Worst of the Worst’

  • President delivers campaign-style speech to police officers
  • Again criticizes U.S. immigration system’s family preference

Trump Seeks Merit-Based System U.S. Immigration System

President Donald Trump told law enforcement officers Friday that immigrants who enter the U.S. through visa lotteries are “the worst of the worst.”

Trump attacked U.S. immigration policy in an address to law enforcement officers graduating from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, on Friday, citing two recent terrorist attacks. The president’s speech in many ways resembled Trump’s campaign rallies, complete with an attack on the media and a jab at Chicago’s murder rate.

Akayed Ullah, 27, a green card holder from Bangladesh who is accused of detonating a bomb in a New York subway tunnel on Monday, came to the United States in 2011 on a visa available to nieces and nephews of U.S. citizens. Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old from Uzbekistan who’s alleged to have mowed down people on a bike path with a pickup truck in New York on Halloween, came to the U.S. in 2010 on a visa won in a lottery for people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.

“Both terrorists came to our country through the dysfunctional immigration system that we are correcting, rapidly. And one came through chain migration. Chain migration. The other visa lottery,” Trump said.

“You think the country is giving us their best people? No,” Trump said of the lottery. “What kind of a system is that? They come in by lottery. They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand when he’s picking him are really the worst of the worst.

“Congratulations, you’re going the United States, ok? What a system,” he continued.

His remarks misrepresented how the visa lottery works. Applicants to the program have to demonstrate they have the equivalent of a high school education or experience in a job that requires at least two years of training. They also must undergo a background check. The U.S. decides who enters the country through the program, not other countries, and can refuse visas to lottery winners.

The lottery program began as a temporary measure in 1986 and was made permanent in 1990, initially in an attempt to balance out immigrant flows from Asia and Latin America with more people from Europe. It admits about 50,000 people to the U.S. annually, and nearly half of themcame from Africa in 2014.

Trump also again criticized the U.S. immigration system’s preference for admitting family members of citizens and legal residents. Trump derides family preference as “chain migration” and has backed legislation that would end the policy, reduce overall legal immigration to the U.S. and instead award visas based on merit. The proposal has not advanced in Congress.

“We’re calling for Congress to end chain migration and to end the visa lottery system and replace it with a merit based system of immigration,” he told the law enforcement officers. “We want a system that puts the needs of American families, taxpayers, and security first."

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