President Donald Trump slammed the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program" on Wednesday during a cabinet meeting and said that he would "certainly consider" sending the New York City terror attack suspect to the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, was arrested on Tuesday after authorities say he drove a Home Depot rental truck down the wrong way of the West Side Highway bike path in Manhattan for almost a mile. He is accused of plowing into cyclists, killing eight and injuring 11 others.
"Mr. President, do you want the assailant from New York sent to Gitmo?" a reporter asked on Wednesday.
"I would certainly consider that, yes. I would certainly consider that. Send him to Gitmo. I would certainly consider that, yes," Trump said.
The reporter then asked Trump how he believes the diversity program fit into the suspect's plot, an apparent reference to the program known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.
"Well, they say he came in through that program, so we'll see. We are looking at it, but they say he came in," Trump said. "What we are demanding is merit-based immigration. We want people that are going to help our country. We want people that are going to keep our country safe. We don't want lotteries where the wrong people are in the lotteries."
Trump also repeated his often cited criticism of chain migration, and said he does not want people like the terror suspect to immigrate to the United States and then be able to easily bring in several family members.
The questions came after Trump castigated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Twitter. The president tweeted on Wednesday morning, saying the senator from New York played an instrumental role in establishing the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.
Authorities say Saipov, 29, entered the United States in 2010 under the program. It originated, in part, in a 1990 bill introduced by Schumer, and was established under the Immigration Act of 1990 by Congress. It did not, however, take effect until 1995, according to the Washington Post.