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Trump Blames Obama’s Immigration Lottery for NYC Attack, Calls US Justice ‘A Joke’

Trump said he wants to immediately work with Congress to abolish the immigration lottery under which Saipov entered the United States.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (VOA)

White House, November 2, 2017 : The terror attack in New York on Tuesday quickly became a political issue after President Donald Trump blamed a visa program that he said allowed the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, into the country and called the U.S. justice system “a joke” for moving too slowly.

Saipov, who told officers he chose Halloween for his attack because he thought more people would be on the streets, was charged Wednesday in a two-count criminal complaint.

Trump said he wants to immediately work with Congress to abolish the immigration lottery under which Saipov entered the United States.

Those remarks drew criticism from Democrats, who said the president was rushing to politicize a tragedy at a time when law enforcement is trying to determine the facts of what happened.

On Wednesday, Trump, in a Twitter remark, blamed Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York for allowing “the terrorist” into the U.S., as part of “what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.”

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reacts to questions from reporters about President Donald Trump reportedly sharing classified information with two Russian diplomats during a meeting in the Oval Office, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) VOA

Schumer accused Trump of “politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy.” Schumer said he has “always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the president’s tweets “unhelpful.”

“I don’t think they were factual. I think they tended to point fingers and politicize the situation. He was referring back to an immigration policy that dealt with a lottery and blaming people who passed that immigration policy. His tweet wasn’t even accurate, as far as I’m concerned. That was a bipartisan law that was passed that had basically no relevance to the facts of this situation.”

Later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was not blaming Schumer for the attack and that only Saipov was responsible. She said Trump considers Saipov an “enemy combatant.”

But she said the lottery immigration system under which Saipov came to the U.S. in 2010 should be revoked because it leaves to chance who gets to come to the U.S., with little vetting of their character and background.

The immigration lottery was part of 1990 U.S. legislation that Schumer, then a member of the House of Representatives, sponsored along with 25 other Democrats and six Republicans.

More ‘extreme vetting’

On Tuesday night, within hours of the attack, Trump ordered the country’s Homeland Security agency “to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program,” about immigration into the U.S. “Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

Uzbekistan is not one of the countries that the Trump administration has highlighted as security threats warranting a ban on travelers.

Sanders, responding to a reporter’s question during Tuesday’s daily press briefing, said no decision has been made on whether Uzbekistan should be added to the travel ban list.

Saipov, according to law enforcement officials, said he had carried out the attack after watching Islamic State videos on his cellphone.

Extremism analyst Bennett Clifford at George Washington University says many become radicalized after they are already in the United States.

“I think that’s important to take in mind as well that we’re not only facing an international terrorism problem in terms of people from overseas coming here,” Clifford said. “That’s less of an issue than I think than the problem of homegrown extreme — extremism where individuals born, raised in the United States are pushed down this same path to violent extremism.”

In remarks at the White House on Wednesday, the president also suggested more fundamental changes to the U.S. justice system to address the threat of terrorist attacks. He also seemed to blame the U.S. justice system for attacks like the one in New York Tuesday.

“We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.” (VOA)

Next Story

Hanoi Summit Can Progress North Korea’s Objectives

North Korea was able to establish this framework with the United States that it is more urgent to establish the confidence-building relationship between these two countries and then we can start nuclear dismantlement.

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U.S and North Korean flags are on sale at a flag shop in Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan. 29, 2019. VOA

With the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un one week away, final preparations are underway in Vietnam for the February 27-28 talks in Hanoi. It remains unclear what the outcome between the two leaders will yield, but former North Korean Deputy Ambassador to Britain, Thae Yong Ho, told reporters Tuesday that Pyongyang’s long term goal was to remove the U.S. and United Nations presence from the Korean peninsula.

During Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, he said Pyongyang called for a “staged approach” for the creation of a “peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula, said Thae.

He explained that Kim suggested a buffer zone be created that would reduce the possibility of military conflict between the two Koreas and for it to be gradually expanded from the border between the two Koreas throughout the whole peninsula as one way of achieving peace.

Thae said if President Trump issues an end of war declaration at the Hanoi summit, which many analysts say is possible, then North Korea could assert there is no reason for the U.N. Command to remain on the peninsula, because the “reason for the U.N. Command is to prevent any possible military confrontations between the two Koreas.”

Speaking at the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies in Seoul last week, Bruce Bennett, senior defense researcher at the RAND Corporation, also identified possible long-term objectives for Kim Jong Un.

“I think he wants to see U.S. disengagement from the peninsula, I think he wants to be in a position where he can put significant pressure on South Korea, and I think he needs to solidify his internal support,” said Bennett.

Regardless of the analysis by intelligence agencies and experts, Bennett said Kim’s objectives are not governed by what “we” think is possible for North Korea to achieve.

“What matters for him (Kim Jong Un), that’s what he thinks he can accomplish, because that’s going to drive those actions,” said Bennett.

Denuclearization

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office Tuesday, President Trump expects “a lot of things will come out” of the second summit with Kim Jong Un.

He called the upcoming meeting “very exciting,” but said Washington’s ultimate goal is North Korea’s denuclearization.

“I think we will see that ultimately. I have no pressing time schedule,” the president said, adding, “As long as there’s no testing, I’m in no rush. If there’s testing, that’s another deal.”

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Instead, the former diplomat suggested that North Korea’s rhetoric was aimed at Washington’s role of establishing a deterrent for conflict in the region and that President Trump “fell into his trap.” Pixabay

During President Trump’s State of the Union address, he claimed, “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed.”

However, on Tuesday, he said the relationship was “far less dangerous and there’s a lot of sanity, a lot of really sane thinking.”

But Thae said there never really was a threat of war to the United States posed by North Korea.

Instead, the former diplomat suggested that North Korea’s rhetoric was aimed at Washington’s role of establishing a deterrent for conflict in the region and that President Trump “fell into his trap.”

“The fact that President Trump spoke at the General Assembly of the United Nations and proclaimed that there is a real possibility of a war, [was] a major strategic mistake,” said Thae.

He went on further to say the belief that the United States and North Korea were on a nuclear “collision course” was a result of North Korean manipulation.

Thae stated Kim Jong Un had successfully shifted the focus on North Korea to the strengthening of relations and establishing peace for nuclear disarmament.

“North Korea was able to establish this framework with the United States that it is more urgent to establish the confidence-building relationship between these two countries and then we can start nuclear dismantlement,” he said.

Bennett was unsure Kim would agree to fully abandon his nuclear weapons program, even if an end of war declaration is made.

If President Trump makes the declaration, Bennett said, “It’s got to end the broader war and lead to a real condition of peace as opposed to the appearance of peace.”

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Moon said South Korea was “determined to take up that role if President Trump asks, if that’s the way to lessen the U.S. burden,” according to Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom. (Pixabay)

Hanoi preparations

The State Department announced Tuesday that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, was en route to Hanoi in preparation for the summit.

“A lot of things are being discussed and we are very much looking forward to next week,” said deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino.

Kim Hyok-chol, Biegun’s North Korean counterpart, was also spotted in Beijing Tuesday, and it has been assumed he would be traveling to Vietnam as well.

In a phone call with President Trump Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke about the upcoming second U.S.-North Korea summit.

A statement from South Korea’s presidential office said Moon offered his country’s assistance to President Trump as a “concession” to Pyongyang in order to expedite North Korea’s denuclearization.

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That could include anything from reconnecting rail and road links between the two Koreas to other inter-Korean economic cooperation.

Moon said South Korea was “determined to take up that role if President Trump asks, if that’s the way to lessen the U.S. burden,” according to Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom. (VOA)