SANTA CLARA (KRON) — The president’s call for an end to the diversity visa lottery and extreme vetting of immigrants was met with a swift, negative reaction from the Bay Area Muslim community.
The Council on American Islamic Relations says that President Donald Trump is trying to use the terror attack to scapegoat Muslims and that ending the lottery-based visa program will hurt all immigrant families, not just Muslims.
“We’re really worried that this president is trying to use this tragedy to further his racist agenda,” CAIR Director Zahra Billoo said.
Billoo, with the Council on American Islamic Relations, says she is not at all surprised by President Trump’s comments in the wake of Tuesday’s terror attack in New York.
“This is a president who has already attempted four Muslim bans, has nearly closed down all refugee resettlement in the U.S., and now, in response to a Muslim criminal, now wants to increase extreme vetting further,” Billoo said.
The president says that since the man accused of the New York terror attack entered the country through the diversity-based visa lottery program, that going forward, all such visa applications ought to be merit-based.
Billoo says that is discrimination.
“The diversity programs help the U.S. bring in great people who are contributing to the country’s strength,” Billoo said. “Muslims would be directly impacted because they are people from Muslim-majority countries, but there are also people coming from Europe and Australia and Asia.”
Many of the immigrants who go on to become naturalized U.S. citizens, like this group did a few years ago in San Jose, began their journey by way of the so-called green card lottery.
Many of their family members followed suit.
“President Trump wants to put a stop to what he calls “chain migration.”
Billoo says that would hurt families and not just Muslim families.
“One of the strengths of the diversity-based lottery system is its ability to reunite families, people come here and they bring their children or their spouse over too,” Billoo said. “What the Trump administration is doing is hurting the ability to build strong American families, and so we worry that the impact will not be just on the individuals who are prevented from coming, but on those immigrants already here.”