President Donald Trump on Thursday renewed his call for Congress to immediately end the Diversity Visa Lottery Program through which the New York City terror suspect entered the U.S. in 2010 because "it's a disaster for our country."
"This program grants visas not only on merit, but applicants are randomly selected in an annual lottery," Trump told reporters before a meeting with House Republican leaders. "And the people put in that lottery are not that country finest."
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, was charged Thursday with terrorism and other offenses that could bring the death penalty in Tuesday's attack that killed eight people and injured nearly a dozen others when he allegedly plowed a truck into pedestrians in lower Manhattan.
Saipov, who came from Uzbekistan through the lottery program, was brought to court in a wheelchair, handcuffed and with his legs shackled.
He was ordered held without bail.
Trump called the visa lottery, which focuses on countries with low numbers of people immigrating to the U.S., "a very unsafe program for our country."
"We know the program presents significant vulnerabilities to our national security," he told reporters. "We are not going to allow it to happen.
"We'll end that program," Trump said, adding, "I think Congress will take that up very quickly."
He also called for an end to chain migration and reiterated his preference for merit-based immigration efforts.
"Congress must end chain migration so that we can have a system that is security based, not the way it is now.
"We want a system ultimately that's merit-based, so we can bring in people that will help our country, grow our country, and be safe for our country.
"We want to select people based on their ability to contribute to our country, not choose people randomly."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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