Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged opponents of comprehensive immigration reform Monday to refrain from exploiting the bombings in Boston to kill debate on the bill.
The committee is currently conducting hearings on the 2013 immigration reform bill submitted last week by the "gang of eight," a bipartisan group of senators including four Democrats and an equal number of Republicans.
“Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people,” Leahy told his colleagues in the hearing. “The bill before us would serve to strengthen our national security by allowing us to focus our border security and enforcement efforts against those who would do us harm. But a nation as strong as ours can welcome the oppressed and persecuted without making compromises on our security. We are capable of vigilance in our pursuit of these values.”
Dzhokhar, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, two brothers from Chechnya, have been accused of setting the two bombs the exploded near the finish line at last week’s Boston Marathon. The elder brother died in a shootout with law enforcement Thursday night and his younger brother was captured the next day. Dzhokhar was a naturalized U.S. citizen while Tamerlan held a permanent residency permit.
Some Republicans have referred to the incident to ask lawmakers to either delay or reconsider the issue.
“Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system,” said Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Leahy said the bipartisan effort was the result of significant work and compromise.