EDITORIAL: Immigration ‘diversity lottery’ in the spotlight after NYC attack

It didn’t take long for the finger-pointing to begin in the wake of Tuesday’s terror attack in New York City which left eight dead and 11 wounded.

Donald Trump wasted little time highlighting that the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, entered the country legally from Uzbekistan through the State Department’s “diversity visa lottery program.” The president blasted Sen. Chuck Schumer for sponsoring the initiative more than two decades ago and said he wanted the program eliminated. “I want merit based,” he tweeted.

Sen. Schumer, who took to the Senate floor to promote gun control in the days after the Las Vegas shooting, accused the president of being divisive and politicizing the issue. Really.

Such are the times in which we live. Rational discourse has given way to partisan political posturing aimed to energize each party’s “base,” who tolerate only what they want to hear.

As Reason magazine points out, the diversity lottery dates back to 1990 and was signed by President George H.W. Bush. Its intent is to increase immigration from countries with few U.S. immigrants and accounts for about 50,000 visas annually. “The program has been controversial,” Reason reports. “Conservatives have long opined that the program allows low-skilled immigrants into the United States” and is “susceptible to fraud.”

No doubt the program will now be under the microscope. Fair enough. But bad policy is often the child of haste and impulsiveness. By all means, let’s have a debate — if we still can — about whether the diversity lotteries are serving the best interests of the country. But let’s not jump to conclusions based entirely on the actions of a single deranged Muslim terrorist.

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