Don't let Boston bombers kill immigration reform

Don't let Boston bombers kill immigration reform
photo via FBI.gov

President George W. Bush was pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. Then came Sept. 11, 2001.

Now almost 12 years later President Barack Obama is pushing for immigration reform. Then came the Boston bombing.

Some lawmakers are questioning immigration reform arguing we need even more border security because the alleged bombers were not born in the U.S. and are of Chechen ethnicity. Some have said we should even close the door to immigrants.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Tea Party Republican from Texas, is against the legislation that would create a pathway to work permits, then green cards and after more than 10 years U.S. citizenship for the undocumented.

His rationale?

“We know Al Qaeda has camps on the Mexican border,” Gohmert said, according to Think Progress. “We have people that are trained to act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists.”

Of course there is no proof of such xenophobic allegations.

After The New York Post, falsely linked the Boston bombing to a Saudi national, Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa reacted with outrage.

"If we can’t background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background-check the 11 million to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?” he told the National Review.

But the fact of the matter is these young men were not immigrants but they came as children under our asylum laws.

Asylum grants "people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion," permission to come to or stay in the U.S., according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Their backgrounds would have been checked when they first came to the U.S. and again when the youngest applied for U.S. citizenship.

In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, there was no failure due to immigration or asylum policy.

If there was any failure, it may be by the FBI and intelligence to adequately track the older brother who had been flagged by a foreign government and travelled abroad, according to news reports.

The Tsarnaev brothers were part of a community of less than 200 people of Chechen descent in the U.S., according to The Atlantic.

Consider that 60 percent of the undocumented, or almost 6 million, are Mexican. How many of them have turned out to be bomb planting terrorists?

I can't think of a single case. Now some of you I'm sure will point out that some of the undocumented have committed serious crimes such as rape and murder.

That is true but Ruben Rumbaut, a sociologist at the University of California, found that foreign-born Mexicans had an incarceration rate of only 0.7 percent in 2000, more than 8 times lower than the 5.9 percent rate of native-born males of Mexican descent.

The overwhelming majority of immigrants come here to work, to feed their families and educate their children, not to commit crimes.

If we closed the door to all immigrants, then we would not have people like Carlos Arrendondo, originally from Costa Rica.

He was credited as being a hero for helping one of the bombing victims who had his legs critically injured in the blast get medical help. He rushed him to safety in a wheel chair.

Later, that same victim, Jeff Bauman Jr., according to news reports, helped give police a description of one of the Tsarnaev brothers after he woke up in the hospital.

"My first instinct was to just run across the street... and start helping out the people," Arredondo said according to news reports.

This is a man whose family also made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. His son was killed by a sniper in Iraq in 2004.

Arredondo, the father, first came to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant but he eventually became a U.S. citizen.

Let us not forget that one of the victims was an immigrant. Lu Lingzi was a graduate student from China who was killed during the marathon bombing.

She came on a student visa. Her father said that she studied English day and night and worked hard to further her education in the U.S., according to ABC News Radio.

This is not a time when we should talk about shutting out immigrants. If we did this, then we would close the door on people like Arredondo and Lingzi.

The fact of the matter is we have 11 million undocumented in the U.S. and allowing them to seek work permits, green cards and eventual citizenship would require a series of background checks.

It arguably would make the country more not less secure.

If we give into fear of immigrants, then we would lose out on all that they can contribute to the U.S.

No act of terror, no matter how horrible, should kill the American Dream.

Filed under: immigration, politics, terrorism

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