Lawmakers part of the so-called Senate Gang of 8 are pushing back against conservatives who are trying to exploit the Boston bombing to slow down the legislative momentum for immigration reform. On Friday, during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on a new bipartisan immigration proposal, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that “[g]iven the events of this week, it’s important to understand the gaps and loopholes” in the immigration system and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) suggested that reform should primarily focus on securing the borders.
But during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) argued that the Boston incident should motivate lawmakers to expedite the immigration debate, as immigration reform bill offered by lawmakers would close dangerous loopholes in the existing system:
GRAHAM: But in terms of immigration, I think now is the time to bring all the 11 million 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 have been hiding in the shadows. When it comes to the entry/exit visa system. The 19 hijackers all students overstayed their visas and the system didn’t capture that. We’re going to fix that… So we are addressing a broken immigration system. What happened in Boston and international terrorism I think should urge us to act quicker, not slower when it comes to getting the 11 million identified. […]
SCHUMER: And in fact asylum, which the Tsarnaev family came here on was greatly toughened up a few years after. They might not have gotten asylum under the present law.
Schumer added that the leading opponents of the Gang of 8’s bill “can make any amendments they want.” “And we go to the floor any one of the hundred senators could pose amendments,” he said.
During a separate appearance on Meet The Press, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) — another member of the group — added that “there are four specific provisions in this immigration reform bill that will make America safer,” noting that the measure will bolster security along the southern border and institute a system of employment verification.