The Department of Homeland Security said chain migration is the common element in two cases allegedly tied to terrorism activities, according to a statement released Saturday.
In the statement on Twitter, Acting Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said DHS “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.”
Chain migration is when an immigrant gains legal entry into the U.S. via sponsorship by a family member who’s already a legal resident or citizen. The Trump administration launched a campaign against the immigration system, in favor of a more merit-based structure, favoring education and job potential as factors.
The memo referred to Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, 51, who it said was a naturalized U.S. citizen admitted to the U.S. from Egypt on a family-based visa. El-Mofty went on a shooting spree Friday in Harrisburg and was reportedly targeting police officers.
The gunman, carrying two rifles and a shotgun, fired at officers in multiple locations.
"He fired several shots at a Capitol police officer and at a Pennsylvania state police trooper in marked vehicles," Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said. The state trooper was injured but is “doing well,” he said.
El-Mofty pursued the trooper to a residential neighborhood and encountered law enforcement officers, who ultimately killed him after he fired “many shots” at them.
The statement also mentioned Zoobia Shahnaz, who DHS said was a naturalized U.S. citizen who entered from Pakistan, also on a family-based visa. Shahnaz was indicted on Dec. 14 after she allegedly laundered more than $85,000 through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies overseas to the Islamic State.
Acquiring the money through fraudulently obtained credit cards and a bank loan, Shahnaz laundered the funds to people in Pakistan, China and Turkey and “planned to travel to Syria and join ISIS,” federal officials said.
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.
In the DHS statement Saturday, Houlton said, “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,” Houlton said. “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.”