MANHATTAN (CN) — As details emerge on the Uzbek immigrant arrested for Tuesday’s carnage in lower Manhattan, President Donald Trump took his national-security grievances to Twitter this morning, railing against bipartisan visa policies.
“The terrorist came into our country though what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning, referring to the Senate Democratic leader. “I want it merit based.”
Trump wasted little time hammering his hardline immigration agenda — and slamming Democrats in the process — after 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov was apprehended at the scene of a deadly attack Tuesday just blocks from the World Trade Center memorial.
In what authorities are calling the Big Apple’s largest terror attack since Sept. 11, 2001, Saipov allegedly barreled down a bicycle path with a pickup truck rented from Home Depot, killing eight and maiming 11.
At a press conference Wednesday, Schumer contrasted the president’s reaction to the attack with the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that stretched across the globe after 9/11.
“All President Trump does is take advantage, horrible advantage of a tragedy and try to politicize it,” Schumer told reporters at a press conference on new workers’ rights legislation. “It doesn’t work with New Yorkers, and it doesn’t work with Americans.”
The program Trump is vowing now to dismantle grew out of the Immigration Act of 1990, signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush but introduced by the now-late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
In his role as a member of Congress at the time, Schumer proposed a program for “diversity immigrants” in the bill.
Trump did not reserve his barbs against Schumer for Twitter, echoing his remarks Wednesday in a cabinet room meeting.
“Diversity lottery,” Trump said mockingly. “Sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it. So we want to immediately work with Congress on the Diversity Lottery Program, on terminating it, getting rid of it.”
Representatives for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio meanwhile offered no hint of a political dispute in announcing a 5-minute call by Trump just after 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“The president praised the response of New York City’s first-responders and emergency personnel, before offering the mayor any federal assistance needed in the coming days,” de Blasio’s office told reporters. “The mayor thanked the president for his pledge of assistance and for the responsiveness of senior Homeland Security officials in his administration.”
Saipov is a green card holder, but Trump said he would consider sending the suspect to Guantanamo Bay.
“I would certainly consider that,” he told a reporter shouting the question. “Send him to Gitmo.”
If Trump follows through on that option, New Yorkers could be waiting a long time for justice for this attack.
The military commissions for five accused 9/11 plotters has stalled for more than a decade, with no trial in sight more than 17 years after the attacks.
Uzbekistan, where Saipov is believed to have legally emigrated from some seven years ago, is not listed among any iteration of Trump’s executive order that bars travel into the United States by the nationals of various countries.