How The New Immigration Bill Could Have Caught Two Suspects Arrested In Connection With The Boston Bombing

Federal authorities on Wednesday announced they had arrested three suspects for allegedly helping the Boston Marathon bombers in the aftermath of the attacks. Two of the suspects are Kazakh nationals Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, who had already been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the days following the bombing for overstaying their student visas.

Though some Republicans have called for halting immigration reform in light of the bombing, the case of these two Kazakh students demonstrates how immigration reform is needed. The Senate’s proposed immigration overhaul would have made it much less likely that Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov would have slipped off federal authorities’ radar, since it creates a tracking system for those who have overstayed their visas.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pointed out a few weeks ago on CNN’s State Of The Union, this will make it easier to catch those who might have dangerous intentions:

GRAHAM: 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. In our bill, when you come into the country, it goes into the system. And when your time to leave the country expires and you haven’t left, law enforcement is notified. So we are addressing a broken immigration system.

It’s likely that, no matter the facts of the bill, the news that anyone related to the bombing had overstayed a student visa will cause a dust-up in Congress’s ongoing conversation over comprehensive immigration reform. When Rep. Steve King (R-IA), for example, discovered that bombers themselves were immigrants — older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a permanent resident, while younger brother Dzhokhar was a naturalized citizen — he called for the process to be put on pause.


According to Mother Jones, “Federal authorities allege that these two friends of Tsarnaev’s removed evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth after the April 15 bombing.” Fox News adds, “Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are suspected of taking computers and other equipment from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s apartment and trying to dispose of it after the bombings.” The boys’ lawyer maintains that they are innocent.


A federal official told the AP on Wednesday afternoon that Tazhayakov was permitted to return to the United States on January 20, despite having his visa revoked for academic dismissal from his university.