The alleged attacker in Tuesday’s Halloween terrorist attack in New York City that murdered eight people and injured 12 was Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan. Saipov entered the United States in 2010 on a green card he won through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (also known as the diversity visa or green card lottery). Many commenters on the attack, including President Trump, have partially blamed the diversity visa for this terrorist attack. This post will explain some of the basics of the diversity visa, the countries-of-origin for those who enter on it, their incarceration rates, and terrorism risks.
The Diversity Visa
Congress created the diversity visa as part of the Immigration Act of 1990, in order to provide lawful immigration opportunities for Irish immigrants who were fleeing an economic crisis in their home country. Then-Congressman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was important in pushing for the idea to be included in the bi-partisan 1990 Immigration Act, which Congress passed by huge majorities and President George H.W. Bush signed.