As news from Boston continues to break, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved ahead this morning with a hearing on the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced earlier in the week. As I noted after the Boston attack, immigration reform has a troubled history when it’s conflated with terrorism. At the hearing this morning, at least one Republican began to associate the Boston bombing with immigration reform.
“While we don’t yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee’s ranking member.
“How can individuals evade authority and plan such attacks on our soil,” he added.
There are varying reports about the immigration histories of the suspects in Boston.
Later in the short hearing, which ended before noon, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who sponsored the immigration bill, warned against assuming the events in Boston have anything to do with immigration laws.
“Before I get to the bill, I’d like to ask that all of us not jump to conclusions regarding the events in Boston, or try to conflate those events with this legislation,” Schumer said.
He added, “Two days ago, as you may recall, there were widespread, eronious reports about arrest that were made.”
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had been scheduled to testify before the committee this morning. She did not appear because of the situation in Boston, according to the Judiciary Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Grassley’s full comment on Boston and immigration reform below:
“Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system. While we don’t yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system. How can individuals evade authority and plan such attacks on our soil. How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the United States. How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us.
We have a long road ahead of us to pass immigration reform.”