Graham, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” argued that “now is the time to bring all the 11 million out of the shadows and find out who they are. Most of them are here to work, but we may find some terrorists in our midst.”
Graham’s comments came after conservative commentators and lawmakers began urging a slower pace in considering new laws in light of the investigation into last Monday’s bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 170.
The two ethnic Chechen brothers suspected of setting off the bombs immigrated to the United States from Kyrgyzstan as minors in 2002. The older one, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed last week in a shootout with police. The other, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken into custody by authorities on Friday and was hospitalized for gunshot wounds. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen in 2012.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on the immigration bill Friday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) suggested that the Boston bombings should slow the pace of the reform effort, because learning the details about the immigration status of the suspects would raise new questions about current laws that should be addressed first. Other conservatives have also warned against rushing to act as the investigation unfolds.
“I agree with Senator Grassley,” Sen. Daniel Coats (R-Ind.) said on ABC News’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” He warned, “You usually end up with bad policy if you do it in an emotional way or an emotional reaction.”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), another member of the bipartisan group of senators, cautioned against using the Boston bombings as an obstacle against overhaul efforts, about which some conservatives were skeptical even before the attack. “We’re not going to let them use what happened in Boston as an excuse because our law toughens things up,” Schumer, the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat said on “State of the Union.”
The Judiciary Committee is set to hold its second hearing on the immigration bill Monday.
Senators involved in drafting the bipartisan proposal have emphasized that the legislation would devote billions of dollars to pay for additional surveillance drones, new fencing and 3,500 customs agents to help secure the border with Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security would be required to establish an entry/exit tracking system to monitor immigrants who overstay their visas, and U.S. companies would be required to set up an electronic verification system to identify undocumented workers.