This story is over 5 years old.


Sessions uses NYC attack to push through Trump's anti-immigrant agenda

Two days after an Uzbek national legally in the U.S. perpetrated a deadly terror attack in Manhattan, Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the attack to promote the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

Speaking in New York Thursday, Sessions echoed President Trump’s remarks linking the attack to immigration policies, as the attacker, a 29-year-old Muslim who says he was inspired by ISIS when he drove a truck down a bike path on Halloween Day and killed eight people‚ entered the country on a visa several years ago.

To prevent further attacks, Sessions urged a merit-based immigration system as a “boon to our economy and raise wages. But it is not just an issue of economic security; it is an issue of national security.” He encouraged the passage of Sen. Tom Cotton’s RAISE Act, which would end the Diversity Lottery — the attacker came to the U.S. via that program, which grants entry to people from countries that don’t already have large numbers of immigrants to the U.S. He said a combination of immigration reforms, the construction of a border wall, and extreme vetting are on the administration’s agenda to prevent other attacks.

The Attorney General also used the attack to defend the president’s stance on refugees entering the country and extreme vetting tactics. “The President’s separate action to reduce the flow of refugees into this country will reduce the likelihood of potentially dangerous people getting here. It will also take some of the pressure off of the FBI and our local law enforcement by control and vetting more carefully those requesting entry before they are admitted.”

Again echoing Trump, Sessions issued a stern warning to would-be terrorists that the Administration would use all available tools, including military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. “If anyone has any doubt about that, they can ask the more than 500 criminals whom the Department of Justice has convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 9/11. And they can ask the dozens of enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay.”

At the end of his speech, Sessions spoke at length in defense of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows American intelligence agencies to conduct overseas surveillance on non-U.S. citizens. Section 702 expires in 59 days and the intelligence community has been heavily testifying to encourage Congress to reauthorize the law.