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Trump Slams Schumer for Diversity Lottery That Admitted N.Y. Terror Suspect

WASHINGTON -- President Trump lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for the diversity lottery through which the Manhattan terrorist immigrated to the United States, causing one of Trump's GOP Senate foes to jump in and correct the record.

Uber driver Sayfullo Saipov, 29, from Tampa, Fla., with addresses in New Jersey, was identified as the driver of the rented Home Depot flatbed truck that plowed into cyclists and pedestrians on the West Side Highway bicycle path Tuesday afternoon, killing eight. He immigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, and has a wife and three children in Paterson, N.J.

Saipov, who had worked as a trucker, had a previous traffic offense in Missouri and didn't show in court, forfeiting $200 bond. Uber said he passed the background check to be a driver.

The diversity lottery awards 55,000 green cards a year to immigrants from countries underrepresented in immigration applications; most go to African and Eastern European nations. Applicants are vetted for two years before receiving a visa and must have no criminal record and possess equivalent education to a high school diploma. When Saipov applied in 2008, he was one of 153,661 Uzbek applicants for a diversity visa; 3,356 made it through the process and got a green card.

The RAISE Act, introduced two months ago by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) and unveiled at the White House with Trump's backing, would reduce the current number of green cards and kill the diversity lottery.

Trump tweeted this morning, "The terrorist came into our country through what is called the 'Diversity Visa Lottery Program,' a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based."

"We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter)."

Schumer was part of the Gang of Eight immigration reform group in 2013 that proposed doing away with the Bush-era diversity lottery.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tweeted in response to Trump: "Actually, the Gang of 8, including @SenSchumer, did away with the Diversity Visa Program as part of broader reforms. I know, I was there."

"In fact, had the Senate Gang of 8 bill passed the House, it would have ended the Visa Lottery Program AND increased merit based visas," Flake added.

Schumer added on Twitter, "I guess it's not too soon to politicize a tragedy."

“I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America. President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution - anti-terrorism funding - which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget," the New York senator said in a statement. “I’m calling on the president to immediately rescind his proposed cuts to this vital anti-terrorism funding.”