Senate shapes immigration bill around Boston bombings

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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The Boston Marathon bombings continue to reshape immigration reform after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment Monday to prevent immigrants from returning to their home countries.

Under the new amendment, immigrants granted refugee or asylum status would terminate that status should they choose to travel back to their country of origin. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced the amendment, which was adopted by a voice vote by the committee Monday.

Graham’s amendment is one of numerous calls, both in rhetoric and policy, to change the bipartisan immigration bill in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled back to Dagestan and Russia in 2012 after his family had claimed U.S. asylum from Dagestan for 10 years.

Tamerlan and brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev detonated two explosives near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, killing three and injuring more than 250 bystanders. Tamerlan’s return to Dagestan and Russia is suspected to have played a role in his radicalization and subsequent attack. Tamerlan was killed during an extensive manhunt several days later.

The amendment does, however, allow the secretary of Homeland Security to grant the immigrant a waiver if he or she determines that the alien “has good cause for the return” to the former country.

The inclusion of the amendment is aimed at increasing Republican support for a typically partisan issue.

In addition to the Graham proposal, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch put forth an amendment favored by Florida Republican Marco Rubio that would install systems like fingerprint and facial recognition to track foreigner’s departures on international flights in 30 of the nation’s highest volume airports.

“I will continue to fight to make the tracking of entries and exits include biometrics in the most effective system we can build when the bill is amended on the Senate floor,” Rubio said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.

Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley added another adopted amendment last week designed to prevent information lapses about the immigration status of foreign students, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to send all student visa statuses to the 300 plus ports of entry around the country.

Information sharing is another key element senators are expressing concern over after it was discovered Russian intelligence, the FBI and other domestic counter-terror organizations expressed concerns over Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s visits to Russia and Dagestan both before and after they occurred.

Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed his desire to bring the legislation before the entire Senate as soon as possible. The amendments adopted Monday are a few of the roughly 80 that have been included in the legislation so far.

The committee is expected to take on one of the most controversial aspects of the bill Tuesday — deciding the legal status of about 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.

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