Debate over immigration reform in a U.S. Senate panel was punctuated by shouting and finger-pointing on Monday afternoon. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and New York Senator Chuck Schumer traded barbs after Grassley suggested earlier that last week’s deadly Boston bombings might have been prevented by better immigration policies.
“It’s a prime example, given the individuals emigrated here from Chechnya, and I’m not saying that we should slow down immigration reform,” Grassley says. “I think that’s the implication that Schumer was trying to say. No, just the opposite. Our immigration system is broken and we need to fix it.”
The bombings last Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 170. Two suspects were identified. One was killed in a gun battle with police. The other is in custody on federal terrorism charges. Schumer, a Democrat, implied Grassley, a Republican, was trying to delay progress on the immigration package by muddying the waters with comments about the Boston attack.
Grassley responded, “Bringing up Boston is nothing more than having an example there that’s been out there since Nine Eleven and maybe a long time before Nine Eleven, that people can come to this country to do bad things. Our immigration system ought to be able to catch them and keep them out of the country.”
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee had to pound his gavel to end the sniping between Schumer and Grassley. In talking with reporters this morning, Grassley reinforced his point. “We have to have thorough immigration reform, national security, the prospects of terrorists coming in here,” Grassley says, “we have to do everything we can to stop that from happening.”
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, helped to write the immigration reform bill and says the final version should close any loopholes in the current law that may have allowed the bloodshed in Boston.