The ostensible purpose of your ban is to keep Americans safe from terrorists by barring visitors, refugees and immigrants from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. So let’s consider, nonhysterically, what such a ban might have accomplished had it come into force in recent years.
It would not have barred Ramzi Yousef, the Kuwait-born Pakistani who helped mastermind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
It would have been irrelevant in the case of Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, the American perpetrators of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in which 168 people were murdered.
It would have been irrelevant in the case of Eric Rudolph, the Christian terrorist who killed one person at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and later bombed abortion clinics and a gay bar.
It would not have barred Mohamed Atta, ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers. Atta was an Egyptian citizen who arrived in the U.S. on a visa issued by the American Embassy in Berlin in May 2000.
It would not have barred Atta’s accomplices, all in the United States on legal visas. Fifteen of them were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates and another from Lebanon.
It would have been irrelevant in the case of the 2001 anthrax attacks, in which five people were killed. The attacks are widely believed (without conclusive proof) to have been the work of the late Bruce Ivins, an American microbiologist.
It would not have barred Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a Miami-bound airliner in 2001 with explosives hidden in his shoes. Reid was a London-born Briton who converted to Islam as an adult.
The diversity visa program is far from the main terror threat.
So it’s unfortunate and counterproductive that President Trump’s first instinct has been to politicize the tragedy by blaming—what else?—immigration.
.. He then shot off a barrage of tweets blasting the lottery, which he called a “Chuck Schumer beauty,” singling out the Senate Democratic leader. “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter),” Mr. Trump tweeted.
.. While we’re all for better vetting of immigrants, and monitoring of terror risks, the sad reality is that a radicalized U.S. citizen could also have committed the attack.
.. Chained family migration favors countries in Latin America while a disproportionate number of Chinese and Indians have immigrated on employer-sponsored visas.
.. Lottery winners make up less than 5% of the total legal immigrants. Applicants must have graduated from high school or have at least two years of formal training in an occupation. Initially, most visas went to European countries, but Africa has lately been soaking up the most.
.. In any event, reducing immigration or improving background checks wouldn’t have prevented the New York attack or many of the other two dozen or so Islamist-motivated attacks since 2001. Testimony from Mr. Saipov’s former acquaintances suggested that he didn’t come to the U.S. radicalized and that he became emotionally disturbed over time.
.. More than an immigration crackdown, the Saipov case might call for better monitoring of terror websites and groups that are more likely to be radicalized. We’re also with Mr. Trump—and Senator John McCain —in suggesting that Mr. Saipov should have been interrogated at length before he was read his Miranda rights. The first priority is preventing future attacks and breaking any terror networks.
.. Perhaps we will learn that Uzbekistan is a terror breeding ground from which immigrants need special vetting. But the Commander in Chief in particular should wait for answers before jumping to policy conclusions or exploiting immigration fears.