National Security

GOP Senator Demands Immigration Records For NYC Truck Terrorist

St. Charles County Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Sen. Ron Johnson is asking the Trump administration to furnish information about the immigration records of a green card holder from Uzbekistan who killed eight people in an ISIS-inspired attack in New York City last week.

In a pair of letters sent Monday to the Departments of State and Homeland Security, the Wisconsin Republican asked for the visa application, alien file and travel records of Sayfullo Saipov, who immigrated to the U.S. through the Diversity Visa Program.

Johnson also asked both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke to provide information about how their departments conduct security screening for diversity visa winners and their dependents.

“Even though the end of the physical ISIS caliphate is in sight, ISIS-inspired attacks have continued,” Johnson wrote in his letter to Duke. “Congress must understand and evaluate the department’s efforts to address this new phase in the war on terror.”

The Diversity Visa program has come under withering criticism in the wake of Saipov’s truck rampage through lower Manhattan. Formally established in a 1990 immigration bill, the program uses a lottery system to award green cards to people from countries with historically low levels of immigration to the U.S.

After the Trump administration revealed that Saipov entered the U.S. on a diversity visa, many Republican lawmakers called for the program to be eliminated, either in a broader immigration reform bill or as part of a deal to legalize recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump himself urged Congress to kill the program in favor of a merit-based system. (RELATED: Trump Calls For Death Of ‘Diversity Visa Lottery’ Program After NYC Terrorist Attack)

In addition to information about Saipov’s diversity visa application, Johnson is asking the administration for an assessment about the security implications of family-based immigration, commonly known as chain migration. U.S. law allows recent arrivals to sponsor family members for immigrant visas of their own, creating multiple waves of additional immigration.

Even before the New York attack, Trump had said a provision to end chain migration should be a part of any future immigration reform bill. He raised the issue once again Wednesday, telling reporters that Saipov had been the “primary point of contact” for 23 additional people that “came in, or potentially came in with him.”

Johnson alluded to Trump’s claim in his letters to Duke and Tillerson, asking both for information on how Saipov “assisted or facilitated the admission of these 23 individuals into the country” and whether any of those people “posed a threat to national security.”

Neither DHS nor the State Department have confirmed how many, if any, family members Saipov has petitioned for immigrant visas.

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