WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) (R), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) speak about immigration during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. The news conference was held to discuss immigration control issues that are before Congress. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)2013 Getty Images
WASHINGTON – Immigration reform continues to suffer political collateral damage stemming from the Boston Marathon bombings.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Thursday that the way the U.S. grants asylum to immigrants may need to be addressed after bombings, a sign that changes could come by way of amendments to the newly introduced immigration reform bill.
Accused Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are ethnic Chechen brothers from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. The family was granted asylum.
"People getting asylum because they are in the minority, but engaging in aggressive tactics in their home country that may cause them to be susceptible to doing the same thing elsewhere, that obviously ought to be a part of our consideration in granting political asylum to avoid situations like Boston," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who's working to develop a series of bills to fix problems with the country's immigration system.
Goodlatte didn't specify what might need to be changed in the asylum process, only saying it's something that bears examination in the wake of the Boston bombings. So do with other aspects of the U.S. immigration system, including the naturalization process by which immigrants become U.S. citizens, Goodlatte said.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a U.S. citizen while Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a permanent resident who had sought citizenship but had not had his application approved.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police last week. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested after being found hiding, unarmed, in a boat.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the asylum process this week in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying it involves multiple layers of vetting.
A comprehensive immigration bill introduced last week in the Senate also may undergo changes in response to Boston. One of its authors, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has suggested strengthening background checks done on certain immigrants considered higher-risk, such as refugees or asylum-seekers.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., another author, said Thursday that it's too early to know what changes might be needed.
"We are completely open to amendments that would in any way prevent what happened in Boston," McCain said. "I am sure that by the time this bill reaches the floor we will be able to reach conclusions and we will include provisions like that if we feel they are necessary."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.
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