Boston and Immigration Reform

April 22, 2013

Over the weekend there were news stories suggesting that the bombing in Boston would complicate efforts to pass immigration reform legislation. It proves how much our political debates can be captured by the news of the moment – and by people willing to use it manipulatively. 

It is clear that the Boston bombing should have nothing to do with the immigration debate. The suspected bombers were legal immigrants, whereas the controversial parts of the bill deal with those here illegally. To suspect all immigrants of wrong-doing would be like saying, "Lance Armstrong cheated, let's ban Texans from international competition" or "Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building with fertilizer, let's keep white men from purchasing farm supplies." 

The brothers in the bombing case came here under the current system, so the only possible impact on the policy should be to increase background checks on those applying to enter the country legally. I don’t know if that’s necessary, but there is at least a logical connection. But it would hardly make sense to use the bombing as a reason to continue the incentive for 11 million people here illegally to stay outside our immigration system. In fact, having them apply for legal status is a great way to check their backgrounds, since they're going to be living among us anyway.

Of course, those who oppose immigration reform are using the fact that the brothers were born in another country -- and the fact that cable news and newspapers need fodder -- to create public doubt. I suppose, if they believe in their cause, that's their job. But it is the responsibility of news outlets, and all of us, to point out the fallacy of their argument. 

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Boston Marathon bombing
Legal immigrants
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Timothy McVeigh
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