Grassley ties immigrant Boston suspects to immigration bill at hearing

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, drew a connection between the pending immigration reform and the bombings at the Boston Marathon, the alleged perpetrators of which were confirmed to be Chechen immigrants early Friday morning.

At a hearing of the Judiciary Committee on the immigration bill penned by the Gang of Eight, Grassley said in his opening statement that the hearing was particularly important “in light of all that’s happening in Massachusetts right now.”

The long-awaited hearing was largely upstaged Friday morning by the massive manhunt for the perpetrators of the bombing of the Boston Marathon. When the committee hearing began, police were in the process of trying to apprehend the Dzhokar Tsarnaev, one of the two suspects, who reportedly had explosives on him. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had been killed in a firefight with police in the wee hours of Friday morning.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was scheduled to attend the hearing, but was unable to in light of the developments in the Boston case.

The two brothers have been confirmed as immigrants. Earlier this week, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said that since it was possible that the perpetrators were immigrants, that congress should hold off on the pending immigration legislation.

Grassley said that it was important to take these developments into consideration. (RELATED: Schumer warns against conflating Boston attacks, immigration)

“While we don’t yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the community in Massachusetts, when we find out, it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system,” Grassley said. “How can individuals evade authority and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on those 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?”

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