WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Tuesday released a report attempting to link terrorism with migration, arguing that it was evidence of the need to dramatically reshape the nation’s immigration system.
The report, ordered by President Donald Trump in an executive order last year, said that 75 percent of the 549 people convicted of terrorism charges since 9/11 were born outside the U.S. Administration officials called that a sign that the U.S. needs to scrap its policy of family preferences for visas, which they call “chain migration,” and a diversity visa lottery program.
But the report did not specify how many – if any – of the convicted terrorists entered the country through those means. It also did not detail how many of the convictions were related to attacks or plans in the U.S. versus overseas and how many involved people who went to fight overseas for the Islamic State or another terror group. Those details were not available, officials said.
“The focus of our immigration system should be assimilation,” a senior administration official said on Tuesday, speaking on condition that his name not be used. He said the nation should give priority to potential immigrants who speak English, who have an education and those who are “committed to supporting our values – not family members of people already here.”
“This report is likely just the tip of the iceberg,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee during testimony Tuesday.
The report, due last year, is being released in a highly charged moment in the immigration debate, as Trump and some Republicans in Congress seek tough new border and immigration measures in return for a deal protecting the 690,000 people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The official said the timing of the report was coincidental.
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