“The president’s policy has called for an end to chain migration, and if that had been in place that would have prevented this individual from coming to the United States,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday. | Win McNamee/Getty Images
The White House on Monday said President Donald Trump’s immigration policies against so-called chain migration could have prevented a suspected terror attack in New York City, blaming Democrats in Congress for blocking his plans.
Authorities in New York identified 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh who entered the U.S. in 2011, as the suspect who detonated an improvised explosive device on Monday morning near a Port Authority bus terminal, injuring four people. Authorities said the suspect suffered burns and lacerations as a result of the explosions. Three bystanders reportedly sustained headaches and ringing in their ears.
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“The president is certainly concerned that Congress, particularly Democrats, have failed to take action in some places where we feel we could have prevented this,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. “Specifically, the president’s policy has called for an end to chain migration, and if that had been in place that would have prevented this individual from coming to the United States. So the president is aggressively gonna continue to push forth responsible immigration reform, and ending chain migration would certainly be a part of that process.”
Chain migration is the process through which people from the same town or area migrate to a new place. The White House has used the term to refer to people sponsoring family members to come to the U.S. Citing confirmation from the Department of Homeland Security, Sanders said the suspect was admitted into the U.S. in 2011 after presenting a passport with an F-43 family immigrant visa.
“We know that the president’s policy calls for an end to chain migration, which is what this individual came to the United States through, and if his policy had been in place, then that attacker would not have been allowed to come in the country,” Sanders said, even though the suspect came to the U.S. six years before Trump took office.
“That’s why the president has pushed for not one part of immigration policy but a responsible and total immigration reform. And that’s why we have to look at all sectors and do what we can to make sure we’re doing everything we can within our power to protect the American people.”
In her opening statement at Monday’s briefing, Sanders praised the police and first responders for their heroism. She also touted the administration’s gains against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, in addition to calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.
“This attack underscores the need for Congress to work with the president on immigration reforms that enhance our national security and public safety,” she said. “We must protect our borders, we must ensure the individuals entering our country are not coming to do harm to our people and we must move to a merit-based system of immigration.”
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