Following Tuesday's terrorist attack in Manhattan, President Donald Trump said he would initiate a process to shut down the annual Green Card program, thanks to which Uzbek terrorist Sayfullo Saipov was granted entry to the US.
Trump noted during a Cabinet meeting that the driver in Tuesday's attack entered the country through the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program" and called on Congress to "immediately" begin working to eliminate the program, which applies to countries with low rates of immigration to the US.
Trump added, "We have to get much tougher, much smarter, and less politically correct."
Officials said the attacker is an immigrant from Uzbekistan. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton said he entered the United States legally under the diversity visa program in 2010.
The "Diversity Lottery Program" is intended to diversify the ethnic backgrounds of people granted Green Cards. The program grants 50,000 Green Card visas annually. In 2016, eight million people participated in its lottery drawing worldwide. Only 35 Israelis were selected, compared to 1,700 Uzbeks and 2,700 Iranians.
Speaking before a Cabinet meeting at the White House, Trump said "all of America is praying and grieving" with the victims. "Our hearts break for them," he said.
President Trump added he would be open to transferring Saipov to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where other suspects including alleged Sept. 11 plotters are held.
"Send him to Gitmo. I would certainly consider that," Trump told reporters. "We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now."
The New York Police Department supplied more details about the attack and its 29-year-old perpetrator Wednesday, saying the attack had been planned out weeks in advanced.
John Miller, deputy police commissioner for intelligence, said Saipov left behind notes at the scene, handwritten in Arabic with symbols and words, that essentially said the Islamic State group, or ISIS, "would endure forever."
Miller added there were "multiple knives" in addition to the imitation guns displayed by the attacker.
Saipov was shot by an off-duty police officer, wounded and taken to a hospital. An interview close to Saipov's interrogation told ABC he was proud of his attack. A New York police department official said it appeared Saipov had links to people who have been investigated by the FBI.
Reuters contributed to this report.