The Trump administration is arguing that two recent terrorist attacks in New York City should prompt Congress to strip people of green cards. The first attack on Halloween by Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, killed eight people. The second was Akayed Ullah from Bangladesh. He killed nobody but did manage to mutilate himself. Both entered the U.S. on green cards because they were related to American citizens or other legal immigrants on green cards.
Yet family‐sponsored immigrants are far from the threat the Trump administration imagines they are, and cutting off this source of immigration is a foolish way to respond to occasional terror attacks.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued that visas like Ullah’s are responsible for the terror attack, “a result of failed immigration policies.” But neither Sessions nor any other member of the administration has told us how dangerous family‐sponsored immigrants actually are. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said, “We believe that data drives policy, and this data will help drive votes” to cut family‐sponsored green cards. What do the data actually say?
From 1975 through 2017, 16 people have been murdered in attacks on U.S. soil by terrorists who entered on a green card. My estimate is that such terrorists, including those in the family‐sponsored category that this administration wants to cut, are responsible for 0.4 percent of all deaths in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 1975.