United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he would terminate the popular green card lottery after a deadly attack in New York which left at least eight people dead. The attack was carried out by Islamic State (ISIS) inspired man from Uzbekistan who entered America under the same programme.
Trump said that the attacker Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov -- who legally resided in Florida and New Jersey and ploughed through pedestrians and bicyclists in lower Manhattan using a rented Home Depot truck -- entered the US under the green card lottery or "Diversity Lottery Programme" regulated by the State Department.
"I am starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery programme," Trump told reporters ahead of a cabinet meeting.
"Today we mourn the horrifying terrorist attack in New York City just blocks away from the sight of the World Trade Center. The man drove a truck into a pedestrian bike path and murdered eight people and injured very, very seriously at least 11 more," Trump said.
"All of America is praying and grieving for the families who lost their precious loved ones. Horrible act. Our hearts break for them and we pledge to renew our resolve in their memory," he added.
The visa programme, established by US Congress, is aimed at diversifying the US immigrant population and has its roots in efforts to bring more Irish and Italian immigrants into the United States. Under the programme, citizens of countries that send relatively fewer immigrants to America can enter a lottery which grants permanent US residency to winners.
Reports state that applicants of the programme must have relevant work experience or at least a high school education or its equivalent.
According to Reuters reports, Sayfullo Saipov had immigrated to the US from Uzbekistan in 2010 after winning a lottery enabling him to obtain a "diversity visa."
"My administration is coordinating closely between federal and local officials to investigate the attack and to further investigate this animal who did the attacking," he added.
Trump continued: "We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now."
"They'll go through court for years. At the end, who knows what happens. 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 laughing stock," he said.
"I'm going to ask Congress to immediately initiate or get rid of this programme," he said.
"And we want to get rid of chain migration. This man who came in, or whatever you want to call him, brought in with him other people. And he was the point of contact, the primary point of contact, for and this is preliminary, 23 people who came in or potentially came in with him. And that's not acceptable," Trump said referring to the attacker.