Speaking at a Cabinet meeting less than 24 hours after a driver killed eight and injured at least a dozen in Manhattan, Trump repeated his criticism of the Diversity Lottery Visa program from tweets earlier in the morning.
“I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program,” he said. “I’m going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program. The program “sounds nice,” Trump continued. “It’s not nice. It’s not good.”
Trump argued that instead of the lottery, the U.S. should institute a “merit-based system.” In August, he endorsed a longshot bill by two Republican senators that would streamline merit-based immigration and cut legal immigration in half by 2027.
“We don’t want lotteries where the wrong people are in the lotteries,” Trump said. “And guess what, who are the suckers who get those people?”
The Diversity Visa Lottery program, which is aimed at boosting immigration from countries that traditionally send fewer immigrants to the U.S., was created as part of a bipartisan immigration effort in Congress in 1990 and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
The Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight sought to eliminate it in a 2013 immigration reform effort that was ultimately blocked by the House.
On Wednesday, Trump blamed political correctness for the continuation of the lottery.
“We have to get much tougher, we have to get much smarter, and we have to get much less politically correct,” he said. “We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.”