Donald Trump calls for visa programme used by New York attacker to be scrapped

- © 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP
- © 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP

Donald Trump has demanded the visa program used by the New York attacker be scrapped as he labeled American border control a “joke”. 

The US President hit out at “politically correct” opponents and called for more “extreme vetting” after a terror attack killed eight and injured 12

He also pledged to consider sending Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant under arrest, to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. 

But in turn Mr Trump was criticised for politicising the tragedy in a way that would “'play into the hands of the terrorists”. 

The diversity lottery program Mr Trump wants to close, also know as the green card lottery, gives US permanent resident visas to around 50,000 applicants a year. 

Mr Trump said: “We have to get much smarter and we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.”

He added: “What we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughing stock and no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.”


Fresh details about what happened in the New York attack on Monday - the first major terror incident of Mr Trump’s presidency - have now emerged.

Police announced it took just four minutes for Saipov to drive a truck around a mile down a bike path, hitting pedestrians before eventually crashing into a school bus.

The attacker then emerged carrying a paintball and pellet gun shouting “Allahu Akbar” - meaning God is Great - before being shot by a "hero" cop nearby.

A handwritten note in Arabic found in the rented truck had a message to the effect of “the Islamic State will endure forever”.

The eight victims who died in the attack included five Argentinians who had traveled to the city for a high school reunion.

It was 30 years since the group had graduated from the Polytechnic School of Rosario, 350 km northwest of Buenos Aires, and they also planned to visit Boston where one of their classmates lives.


Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack is seen in this handout photo  - Credit: REUTERS
Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack is seen in this handout photo Credit: REUTERS

Police named the dead as Ariel Erlij, Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, and Hernan Ferruchi, all aged 48 or 49.

Police later named the Belgian woman who died as Anne Laure Decadt, 31. The other two victims who died were named as Darren Drake, 32, from New Jersey, and Nicholas Cleves, 23, from New York.

The heroic police officer who shot and injured the terror suspect was also named as Ryan Nash, a 28-year-old with just five years of experience.

He was praised as “humble” after denying that he was a hero, saying he was simply doing his job. 

The visa scheme Mr Trump wants to close was set up by George H W Bush, a former president who was also a Republican, in 1990. It allows people from countries not normally granted many visas to get a chance of moving to America.

Mr Trump said Saipov entered America on the scheme and claimed 23 other people “came in or potentially came in” with him. He said he wanted to end “chain migration”. 

Mr Trump also pointed the finger of blame at the most senior Democrat in the Senate as he sought to tie political opponents to the scheme. 

He said the scheme was a “Chuck Schumer beauty” - a reference for the New York Senator who has clashed with Mr Trump in the past. 

Mr Schumer hit back, tweeting that it is never “too soon to politicize a tragedy” and calling on Mr Trump to scrap cuts to “anti-terrorism funding”.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said: “I am bothered by an attempt by anyone to try to politicize the situation. That plays right into the hands of the terrorists. They’re trying to disrupt, they are trying to create mayhem, they’re trying to divide.”

Officials identified the New York attacker as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov and said he came to the US legally from Uzbekistan in 2010. He has a Florida driver's licence but was reportedly living in New Jersey.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted: "I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!" 

He earlier called the attacker a "sick and deranged person", adding: "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the 29-year-old suspect - Credit: @NYScanner/Twitter
Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the 29-year-old suspect Credit: @NYScanner/Twitter

Mr Trump, who changed the banner on his Twitter account to the New York skyline, has pressed for a ban on travellers entering the United States from some predominantly Muslim countries. 

Citizens of seven countries face new restrictions on entry to the US under a proclamation signed by the president in September.

The rules, which affect the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, went into effect on October 18.