(Photo: Reuters/Jim Bourg)
The bombings in Boston last week have entered the debate over immigration reform. Some are suggesting the immigration reform effort should be delayed to consider what can be gleaned from the attacks to improve the immigration system, while others suggest that the attacks demonstrate the need to reform the system soon.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) first suggested that the immigration debate be put on hold due to the bombings in Boston.
"Given the events of this week, it is important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system," Grassley said during a Friday committee hearing on immigration reform.
Two brothers from Chechnya, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are suspected of committing the terrorist acts in Boston. The younger brother, Dzhokhar, has been captured while the older brother, Tamerlan, died in a shootout with police.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a U.S. citizen. Tamerlan Tsarnaev had a student visa and was denied an application for citizenship becaue the Russian government warned the U.S. government that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had suspected ties to terrorist organizations.
On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said he agreed with Grassley.
"You usually end up with bad policy if you do it in an emotional way or in an emotional reaction," Coats said.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, responded that the opposite lesson should be learned from the attacks – that immigration reform is needed and should not be delayed.
"One of the lessons of this incident – we need to integrate all Americans into this society, we want to mainstream them. Rather than delaying the bill, I actually think we should move it even faster. ... This bill will help make America safer because more Americans will come into the mainstream, will no longer be forced to live in some twilight, shadowed area. ... Alienated young people, not part of the mainstream fully – dangerous thing," Haass said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the "gang of eight" that crafted the initial immigration reform bill, made a similar point Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
"I think now is the time to bring all of the 11 million [unauthorized immigrants] out of the shadows and find out who they are. Most of them are here to work but we may find some terrorists in our midst who've been hiding in the shadows when it comes to the entry/exit visa system," Graham said.
Graham also pointed out that all of the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks were on student visas but stayed past the expiration. The immigration bill would fix that shortcoming of the current immigration system, Graham explained, because law enforcement would be notified when a visa expires.
"What happened in Boston ... I think should urge us to act quicker, not slower," Graham added.