MIAMI — On Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tried to use the Boston bombings to slow down the legislative push for immigration reform. Speaking during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on a new bipartisan immigration proposal, Grassley said that “[g]iven the events of this week, it’s important to understand the gaps and loopholes” in the immigration system.
But leading Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), are already condemning Grassley’s sentiment. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), the House point man on immigration, slammed Grassley’s comments, saying “it’s not appropriate” to attempt to link the terrorist attack with immigration efforts. Diaz-Balart made the remarks at an impromptu conversation with the press attending the Hispanic Leadership Network conference:
MARC CAPUTO [MIAMI HERALD]: Chuck Grassley took some time today to link the terrorist attack to the immigration debate. Now that we have a member of your own party doing this, what’s your reaction?
DIAZ-BALART: […] Linking something like that to other legislation I think is probably not appropriate at this time. In the first place, we don’t have the facts. What I will tell you is, what is indisputable, we have an immigration system that is broken. […] What is clear is the system we have not only is not working for our economy, it is also threatening the national security of our country. If somebody is here today in the United States and commits a crime, it is under the current immigration system. It is under the current immigration system. Obviously not everything can be solved. But again, every crime that is committed right now is under the current immigration system. So what does that lead me to believe? We need to fix the current immigration system, if in fact there is any connection between immigration at all.
A number of Republican pundits and activists have begun echoing Grassley and right-leaning commentators are already suggesting that the Boston attack will destroy any chance for comprehensive immigration reform.
During his public remarks at the conference, Diaz-Balart condemned “a minority” of voices in the Republican Party whose harsh rhetoric on immigration were turning Latinos and other ethnic minorities away from the GOP.