The fact that the 2 Boston bombers were not U.S. citizens still has not much to do with immigration. A few hours after the Boston bombing, news sources aided and abetted by social media spread wildy inaccurate stories about a "Saudi suspect" or "Saudi Muslim" supsect. All reports of a Saudi suspect turned out to be wrong as the man was an innocent witness and bystander, not a suspect.
Not to be outdone, some conservatives jumped on the band-waggon, hoping to derail immigration reform, and I don't mean just Ann Coulter. Within hours of discovering that the likely Boston bombers are 2 men of Chechen decent who were legally in the U.S., held Green Cards, and lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that the the events in Boston need to be taken into consideration in approaching immigration reform. Here are 4 reasons why the Boston bombings should NOT be taken into consideration as the nation begins a debate about immigration reform. Grassley said:
“Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system,” Mr. Grassley said in his opening statement. “While we don’t yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system.”
All this talk linking the immigration status of the Boston bombing suspects to current immigration reform efforts is misguided at best and opportunistic at worse.
1) Not all terrorists are foreign!--Understandably, everyone is jittery about public safety after the Boston Marathon bombings and the foremost thing on people's minds is preventing future attacks. If the goal is to stop future attacks than beefing up immigration enforcement will would not guard against homegrown terrorists like: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City Bombing), Eric Rudolph (Atlanta Olympics bombing), Ted Kacynski (the Unabomber), and Adam Lanza (the Newtown Shooter).
2) The two Boston bombing suspects are not undocumented immigrants. At the time of the bombing, both held Green Cards and are lawful permanent residents of the United States. Reports indicate both had resided lawfully and uneventfully in the country for over a decade. The vast majority of the actual undocumented population are here to work, and are trying not to draw attention to themselves so that they can continue to work and send funds home to support their families. Giving undocumented immigrants a path to legalization is not a terrorist loophole.
3) Refugee status is not a gap or loophole in the system. Several news reports including the Voice of America are reporting that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev entered the U.S. under refugee status. Undoubtedly, critics of the immigration system will now leap to the conclusion that the refugee program should be tightened up. The U.S. is a signatory to international agreements promising not to return persons who have a "well founded fear of persecution" to their home countries. This policy, enshrined in immigration law and international law, has saved the lives of countless persons who are fleeing danger. The program is not a generous one because the legal standard for "well-founded fear" is a high one. The Department of Homeland Security's own statistics show that unless you are from China, in which case the grant rate is around 40%, if you hail from other countries, your chance of being granted asylum is in the single digit range. Quite frankly, intended terrorists would be stupid to take that route to try to infiltrate the U.S. because it is one of the most difficult into the U.S.
4) The Boston Marathon bombing case is a case of homegrown terrorists that became radicalized by international influences. It has not much to do with immigration. News reports are saying that the two suspects entered the U.S. under refugee status, but lived uneventful lives for over a decade before the bombings. One high school friend of the two suspects described them as Americans who were "into normal things" and called Dzokhar, the 19 year old, "Just a normal American kid." It would be a stretch to claim that the two infiltrated the immigration system in order to kill Americans. Perhaps now there will be a call to shut down the internet.
As seen on Facebook, Bostonians might say, "Keep wicked calm and carry the hell on."