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Homeland Security labels Pennsylvania shooting spree a 'terror attack,' slams chain migration

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The Department of Homeland Security has cited a number of recent incidents as reason for terminating the U.S. chain migration program. (iStock)

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton labeled a shooting spree in Harrisburg, Pa., as a “terror attack,” using the incident to slam chain migration.

Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty shot at several police officers at numerous different locations on Friday, injuring a state trooper. The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Pennsylvania State Police, and Harrisburg Police Department are all investigating the 51-year-old, who was killed by police during the incident.

"Department of Homeland Security can confirm the suspect involved in a terror attack in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and another suspect arrested on terror-related money laundering charges were both beneficiaries of extended family chain migration,” Holton said on Twitter late Saturday.

The statement continued: “Ahmed Amin El-Mofty was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was admitted to the United States from Egypt on a family-based immigrant visa. El-Mofty was killed yesterday in a shootout after allegedly opening fire and targeting police at multiple locations in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The long chain of migration that led to the suspect's admission into the United States was initiated years ago by a distant relative of the suspect."

Houlton also referenced separate case, that of Zoobia Shahnaz.

The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday the Pakistani-born woman was indicted on Dec. 14 after she allegedly laundered more than $85,000 through bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to the Islamic State.

The 27-year-old is a naturalized U.S. citizen currently living on Long Island who got her visa through chain migration.

Shahnaz was charged in federal court with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and three counts of money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Houlton said on Twitter of Shahnaz: “These incidents highlight the Trump administration’s concerns with extended chain migration.”

“Both chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program have been exploited by terrorists to attack our country,” he added. “Not only are the programs less effective at driving economic growth than merit-based immigration systems used by nearly all other countries, the programs make it more difficult to keep dangerous people out of the United States and to protect the safety of every American.”

President Trump has criticized such immigration policies such as chain migration and the diversity visa lottery system.

As recently as Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting, he vowed to end both.

Chain migration allows an immigrant to gain legal entry into the U.S. via sponsorship by a family member who is already a legal resident or citizen. The diversity visa lottery program issues up to 50,000 green cards a year to citizens from other countries that have low levels of immigration to the U.S.

"We don't want this group of people anymore. When we take people in a lottery, they're not putting their best people in the lottery. It's common sense,” Trump said, adding the U.S. often gets other countries’ “worst people."

“So, that's not going to be happening anymore. We're gonna end it," Trump said Wednesday, pointing to two recent terror attacks in New York.

Sayfullo Saipov, who carried out a deadly truck attack in New York City in October came to the U.S. through the visa lottery program, and Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi national who attempted to detonate a bomb near New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal earlier this month, benefited from chain migration by his aunt’s selection into the program.