After authorities said an Uzbek immigrant allegedly killed eight people and injured 11 more in Tuesday’s terror attack in New York City, President Trump tweeted that he “ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program.”
It was not immediately clear which vetting program Trump was referring to and White House officials had no comment when asked to explain. The Washington Post reported that Trump was likely referring to the U.S. government’s vetting programs for foreign nationals, as opposed to his controversial travel ban, which applies to only seven Muslim-majority nations.
Though the meaning behind Trump’s comments has yet to be determined, that didn’t stop critics from coming out in full force on Twitter.
Responding to Trump’s tweet — which read in full: “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!” — the ACLU tweeted: “When Trump says ‘extreme vetting,’ what he really means is government-sponsored religious discrimination. #NYCStrong.”
Others suggested that Trump should practice “extreme vetting” when it comes to his own staff, in references to the charges filed last week against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.
Trump also claimed on Twitter that the N.Y.C. attacker suspect, whom authorities have identified as Sayfullo Saipov, 29, “came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty.”
But as TIME reported, it is not yet known how the alleged attacker came to the U.S. And while the program Trump referred to was created by Sen. Chuck Schumer, he has also since sought to end the program.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also criticized Trump’s tweets, saying during a press conference Wednesday morning that they “play[ed] into the hands of the terrorists” by dividing Americans.
“The president’s tweets, I think, were not helpful. I think they were not factual. I think they tended to point fingers and politicize the situation,” Cuomo said.
“You play into the hands of the terrorists to the extent you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society. And the tone now should be the exact opposite by all officials on all levels,” he added. “This is about unification, this is about solidarity, this is about normalization, this is about protection, and the last thing it’s about is politics — period.”