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In the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack in the country since 9/11, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed that he will terminate the popular green card lottery after an ISIS-inspired Uzbek man who entered the US under the programme killed eight people in New York.
Trump said the attacker Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who ploughed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path near the World Trade Centre killing eight people and injuring 11 others in an ISIS-inspired plot, was allowed to enter the US on a State Department programme known as the "Diversity Lottery Programme".
The annual Diversity Visa Lottery, popularly called the Green Card Lottery, is a US government programme that grants 55,000 permanent resident cards every year to persons from "underrepresented countries", which have been less represented in employment and family-based preference categories in the United States of America and who meet two basic eligibility requirements. (Read more here)
The 1990 diversity visa programme gives green cards to people from countries from where they normally don't have merit-based candidates. The programme aims to diversify the origins of people granted permanent residence -- so-called green cards -- in the United States.
Trump said he wants to move US immigration to a "merit-based system" and not allow immigrants to bring their extended families.Trump has ordered the Homeland Security to step up extreme vetting programme.
"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 said.
Trump called the Uzbek immigrant who carried out the attack an "animal".
"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."
"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, for 23 people who came in or potentially came in with him. And that's not acceptable," Trump said referring to the attacker.
Trump also said that he would "certainly consider" sending the New York terror suspect to America's military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"Send him to Gitmo, I would certainly consider that," Trump told reporters
He alleged that there are a lot of good bills that are being stopped by Democrats because they are being obstructionists.
"Terrorists are constantly seeking to strike our nation and it will require the unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence professionals to keep America safe," Trump said.
We have to get much tougher and 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 said. In a series of tweets, the President lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for opposing merit-based immigration system.
"Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europe's problems.. We will stop this craziness!" Trump tweeted.
"We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter)," he said.
Schumer, in a statement, said that it was too soon to politicise a tragedy.
"President Trump, instead of politicising 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," Schumer said.
"I'm calling on the president to immediately rescind his proposed cuts to this vital anti-terrorism funding," he said.
"This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
New York has been largely spared from terrorism since nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attack.
The most recent violence from terrorism there came in September 2016, when a man set off shrapnel-packed explosives in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan. Nobody was killed, but 30 people were injured in the incident.