We get it. Sometimes when President Donald Trump is feeling good, he just can’t help but go a step too far. Who hasn’t been there? Wednesday was a banner day for President Donald Trump. Congress was about to send him the tax cut bill he so desperately wanted, a victory that had not seemed assured. That legislation was such a triumph of the alternate universe he has created — a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy that he insists is really a boon to the working class Americans who supported him so fervently — that we suppose he just wanted to keep the good times rolling. So he trotted out one of his old favorite lies. At a Cabinet meeting that day, he started talking immigration, and he reached for an alternative fact that makes claiming a 21 percent corporate tax rate will put thousands of dollars a year into the pockets of average Americans seem like the apex of truthfulness.
"When we take people in a lottery, they're not putting their best people in the lottery. It's common sense,” he said. “They're not saying, 'Oh, let's take our best people and let's put them into the lottery so that we can send them over to the United States.' No. They put their worst people into the lottery. And that's what we get in many cases."
This is, of course, not new ground for President Trump. He made similar remarks at his bizarre appearance at the FBI academy last weekend, saying the immigration system is to blame for two recent terrorist attacks in New York. “They come in by lottery,” he said. “They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand, when he’s picking them is, really, the worst of the worst. Congratulations, you’re going to the United States. Okay. What a system — lottery system.”
And if all this sounds familiar, it’s an echo of his campaign announcement speech claim that Mexico is “sending” criminals and rapists to the Untied States. That was, of course, absurd, racist nonsense, and so is this.
To state the obvious off the bat, leaders of other countries don’t decide who to “send” to the United States or anywhere else. People choose to immigrate for all sorts of reasons — to reunite with family, to seek a better life, to escape persecution — but foreign governments don’t use the system to dump their baskets of deplorables on other countries.
And even if they did, we are the ones who decide who gets in. Here’s how the diversity lottery system Mr. Trump keeps scapegoating actually works:
The diversity lottery seeks to help citizens of nations without large immigrant populations in the U.S. to get the chance to come here. To be eligible to register, an applicant must have at least a high school education and two years of work experience within the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training. A computerized lottery run by the U.S. State Department selects a pool of people who are eligible to apply for a visa, which under this program is capped at 50,000 people per year. At that point, the State Department conducts interviews and background screening, including biometric checks against U.S. law enforcement and terrorism databases.
Put simply, the fact that Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant who had arrived years before on a diversity visa, is alleged to have killed eight people when he steered a rental truck onto a bike path in New York this fall no more suggests that we should shut down the diversity lottery system than Devin P. Kelley’s attack on a Texas church last month should lead us to disband the Air Force.
For his serial mendacity about immigration, PolitiFact this week gave President Trump his 74th “pants on fire” rating. We concur and recognize him, yet again, for providing the Alternative Fact of the Week.
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