WASHINGTON — New York Senator Chuck Schumer argued Thursday morning that the terrorist attacks in Boston should not slow down movement on the comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Instead, he said, the bill's heightened security measures "might have made a difference" in identifying bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he left the country for a six-month trip to Russia.
"As you know, Tsarnaev when he flew out, his name was misspelled. He was on a customs watch list …but even though he was on the anti-terrorism list, that did not show up because his name was misspelled," Schumer told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. "Under our bill, a machine would have read a passport or something else and they would have known exactly who he was and it might have made a difference."
Several Republican Senators have asked Senate leadership to hit the pause button on immigration reform in light of the attacks on the Boston Marathon last week. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a police shootout late last week, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, were legal immigrants from Chechnya. Dzhokhar became a U.S. citizen Sept. 11, 2012.
"Our bill actually strengthens security, the events in Boston if anything should importune us to leave the status quo and go to a proposal like ours," Schumer said. "Obviously we are interested in any other new facts that come up and suggestions to improve the bill. Those who say lets wait on the bill because we have to see everything that happened in Boston...it's an excuse. . The only people who are saying that are people that were against the bill long before Boston occurred."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), appearing with Schumer at the breakfast, said that his Senate colleagues would have the opportunity to improve the bill in the coming weeks.
"We will have hearings, we will have a markup in the Judiciary Committee, we will then move to the floor where there will be weeks of debate and amendments and we will have ample opportunity, if there are lessons to be learns from the Boston tragedy, to incorporate into legislation," he said.