Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, starting the immigration reform hearing this morning by lashing out against comments made last week urging a revisiting or reviewing of immigration reform proposals in light of Boston’s terror bombings.
“Let no one be so cruel as to try to use a heinous act — to derail the dreams and future of so many people,” said Leahy in the opening statements this morning. “I urge restraint in that regard,” he remarked.
Leahy said the U.S. has had a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. He used as one of the examples the contributions Cuban-Americans have made in several American cities. “Refugees and asylum seekers have enriched the fabric of this country,” Leahy said.
Right after Leahy’s opening statement, Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who made comments last Friday saying the Boston bombing should be a cause for reviewing immigration policies regarding asylum seekers, fired back at Leahy.
“I don’t hear any criticism when there are people killed in West Texas to warn about more government action to make sure fertilizer factories are safe,” said Grassley. “I think we are taking an advantage of an opportunity when once in 25 years we deal with immigration to make sure every base is covered.”
Senator Grassley then went on to say he was not convinced the immigration reform bill did enough to keep borders safe. “If we don’t secure our borders up front, there won’t be any political will — to use it later,” he said. Grassley also criticized the fact that the process of legalization of undocumented citizens can start after Congress approves of the implementation of a border security and border fence strategy, signalling some of the opposition the bill will get as it continues to be deliberated in the Senate.