Trump calls for end to diversity visa program after NYC attack

President Trump said Wednesday he will ask Congress to end an immigrant visa program that he said the New York City terror suspect used to enter the U.S.
 
Speaking during a Cabinet meeting, Trump called the suspect an “animal” and said he should have not been allowed into the country. 
 
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"I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program,” the president said at the White House, calling on lawmakers to act “as soon as possible.”

“Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It’s not good. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it,” he added.
 
Trump will need Congress to get rid of the program, which was enacted by law in 1990 with bipartisan support. 
 
It's possible Trump could get support for ending it now, however. A 2013 immigration overhaul drafted by Republicans and Democrats called for its elimination, but the bill was never passed into law.
 
Trump has thrown his support behind a Republican bill that would end the program as part of a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. visa system, but the proposal thus far has not gained traction in Congress. 

The president’s initial response to the attacks could make it difficult for him to attract congressional support.

Democratic lawmakers slammed Trump calls for changes to the immigration system, accusing him of hypocrisy because he said the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting was too early to consider new gun laws.

They also bristled at Trump’s rush to pin blame for the attack on Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerElection Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Senate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad MORE (D-N.Y.), who co-sponsored the law that created the diversity lottery.

But Trump decried U.S. immigration laws as a “joke” and a “laughingstock” that leaves the country vulnerable to terrorist infiltration.

"We are so politically correct, we are afraid to do anything,” Trump said.

He claimed the suspected attacker was responsible for the entry of 23 other immigrants, including several family members, through the practice of “chain migration.”

“We have a lot of good bills in there that are being stopped by Democrats because they’re being obstructionists,” the president said. “And honestly they don’t want to do what’s right for our country. We need strength. We need resolve. We have to stop it.”
 
The alleged attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, came to the United States from Uzbekistan. Media reports following the attack indicated he may have gained entry through the diversity visa program.
 
The federal government had not confirmed that is the case before Trump spoke. Afterwards, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying he did use the lottery to enter the U.S. in 2010. 
 
The visa program allows the State Department to issue as many as 50,000 visas per year to people from countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S. 
 
-Updated 1:15 p.m.