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Donald Trump's Attempt To Blame NYC Terror Attack On Democrats Backfires

'I guess it's not too soon to politicise a tragedy.'

01/11/2017 15:35 GMT | Updated 01/11/2017 16:10 GMT

Donald Trump has been called out for blaming a “Democrat Lottery System” for allowing the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in New York City on Tuesday into the United States.

The President said 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov entered the country in 2010 under the Diversity Visa Lottery Program which he described as “a Chuck Schumer beauty”.

Criticism of Schumer, who is the Democratic leader in the US Senate, was picked up by news networks overnight, at least one of which was evidently viewed by Trump this morning.

Schumer was damming in his response.

Unfortunately for Trump and Fox News, the criticism is misplaced as Jeff Flake, fresh from his scathing anti-Trump resignation speech last week pointed out, Schumer actually tried to change the law years ago.

The diversity lottery was established in 1990 under Republican President George Bush senior and provides a legal pathway for people from countries with historically low immigration rates to the US.

Fifty-thousand visas are offered annually and applicants are required to have completed at least a high school education or at least two years of work experience. Visas are distributed among nationals from six different regions.

Carlos Barria / Reuters
Trump encounters a dinosaur at the White House yesterday.

Schumer was part of the so-called ‘Gang of 8’, eight senators who in 2013 sought to radically overhaul US immigration policy.

Part of the group’s recommendations was to eliminate the diversity lottery. The bill was passed by the Senate but not the House meaning it never made it into law. 

And as pointed out, again by Flake, it would have actually increased the immigration system Trump is now calling for.

Schumer later tweeted a strong statement criticising Trump further, comparing his response to that of George W Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

The suspect in yesterday’s attack, who was shot by police and arrested moments after the rampage in Lower Manhattan, left a note saying he carried out the attack in the name of the militant Islamic State group, the New York Times and CNN said.

The death toll was lower than from similar assaults in Spain in August and in France and Germany last year. However, it was still the bloodiest single attack on New York City since 11 September 2001, when suicide hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, killing more than 2,600 people.

The suspect allegedly swerved the pickup onto a path filled with pedestrians and cyclists, mowing down everyone in his path before slamming into the side of a school bus.

The man then exited the vehicle brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun before a police officer shot him in the abdomen.

The attack, which left crumpled bicycles scattered along the path and victims writhing on the ground, was over in seconds.

In addition to the eight fatalities at least 11 people were hospitalised for injuries described as serious but not life-threatening. That excluded the suspect, who underwent surgery for gunshot wounds.