Delayed immigration rollout could face more opposition
April 17th, 2013
11:07 AM ET
10 years ago

Delayed immigration rollout could face more opposition

Washington (CNN) – A bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system, in the works for months, faced delays this week as lawmakers and President Barack Obama shifted focus to the bomb attack in Boston.

But the measure, which was formally filed for consideration in the Senate early Wednesday, already faces blowback from some opponents of immigration reform, who argue Monday's attack - which was committed by a yet unknown perpetrator – should be cause for reconsidering any reform making it easier for immigrants to gain citizenship.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said on C-SPAN that his thoughts after Monday's bombings – which killed three people and left more than one hundred injured - turned from victims' families to the security risks posed by immigration.

"Oh my gosh, we've seen this in Israel," Gohmert recalled thinking. "And after Israel had to suffer the slings and arrows and deaths and maiming for so long…finally the Israeli people said, you know what, enough. They built, over 70% of it is just a fence, and the rest of it is a wall, to prevent snipers from knocking off their kids. And they finally stopped the domestic violence from people who wanted to destroy them. And I'm concerned we need to do that as well."

Gohmert, a conservative Republican with a long history of opposing Obama's policies, acknowledged it remained to be seen whether Monday's attack was at the hands of a foreign or domestic terrorist. But he maintained American security was at stake if immigrants who came into the country illegally are allowed to remain.

"We know that people are being trained to come in to act Hispanic when they're radical Islamist," he said. "We know these things are happening, and it's just insane not to protect ourselves and make sure that people come in, as most people do, they want the freedoms we have."

That remark drew a sharp reaction from the center-right Hispanic Leadership Network, whose executive director Jennifer S. Korn wrote Gohmert's comments were "unacceptable, offensive, and ignorant."

"Using a national tragedy to further his own anti-immigration reform agenda is not only shameful, but also a blatant attempt to disingenuously twist public sentiment at a vulnerable time," she wrote.

His comments were similar to remarks Tuesday by another House Republican, Rep. Steve King of Iowa. He told the National Review the Boston bombs should act as an impetus to further investigate America's system of awarding student visas.

"Some of the speculation that has come out is that, yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa," King told the National Review's Robert Costa. "If that's the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture."

After the National Review's interview with King was published online, the Chinese Consulate in New York said a Chinese national was one of the three people killed in Monday's terror bombings. The victim was a postgraduate student at Boston University, the school said.

"We need to be ever vigilant. We need to go far deeper into our border crossings," King continued, adding: "We need to take a look at the visa-waiver program and wonder what we're doing. 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 to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?"

Two Republicans who helped craft the immigration legislation being advanced in the Senate dismissed Kind and Gohmert's assertions as overly speculative Tuesday.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said lawmakers should be "very cautious about using language that links these two things in any way," adding it was far too early in the investigation to make conclusions on policy changes.

"We know very little about Boston other than that it was obviously an act of terror," Rubio said. "We don't know who carried it out or why they carried it out, and I would caution everyone to be very careful about linking the two."

Rubio is a key player in the push this year to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which has faced staunch Republican opposition in years past. He appeared on every Sunday morning show this weekend pitching the bipartisan Senate plan, which includes requirements for ramping up border security as a prerequisite for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, is another Republican member of the "Gang of Eight" that developed the immigration measure introduced Wednesday. He said after meeting with Obama Tuesday the links between immigration reform and the Boston attacks were premature.

"I would argue passage of comprehensive immigration will enhance our ability to keep our country secure," McCain said, citing various elements of the bill, including one that would require documentation from those entering and exiting the country.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Immigration • Louie Gohmert • Steve King • Terrorism
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    The bombing has diverted all attention from the pending legislation proposals in Congress. Looks like Mission Accomplished for the opponents of reform.

    April 17, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. lottie

    this guy is full of BS . One more diversion against immigration and gun control. Hum makes you wonder

    April 17, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. rs

    The GOP will sink this bill. End-of-story- and with it any hopes of making a more inclusive GOP.

    April 17, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Sniffit

    Who's trying to use a tragedy now?

    April 17, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. GI Joe

    As soon as I saw Toomey on the agreement, I suspected the filibuster - just like everything else. Stretch it out for months with republicans involved then BAM!!!!! NO.

    SOS DD.

    April 17, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    He has a point. The border is being crossed so easily, and so often, we have no idea, who is coming across that border.

    April 17, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    He has a point. The border is being crossed so easily, and so often, we have no idea, who is coming across that border.
    And the solution? The Immigration bill cannot "secure" the border. Isn't it just a bit early to declare an attack done on April 15, "Patriot's Day", in Boston the work of foreigners?

    April 17, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Sniffit

    "He has a point. The border is being crossed so easily, and so often, we have no idea, who is coming across that border."

    Or...OMG...whose womb they're hiding in when they sneak across!!!! TERROR BABIES!!!!! EVERYONE FREAK OUT!!!!

    Gohmert is a cartoon.

    April 17, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. much thunder..little rain

    get it right....we can stand a little longer...

    April 17, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. Ray E. (Georgia)

    There are tons of people opposing this Bill. Most voted for Obama. And it is they that will bear the brunt of this bill if it passes. This bill has more Potholes than a back road in Moldovia. It has a snowballs chance in *ell of passing.

    April 17, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. Tony

    @rick mcdaniel,
    this attack might be one of your local kkk right wing extremist groups maybe your neighbor.

    April 17, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Kevin1

    Rick McDaniels: The borders are more secure than at
    anytime in our country. More illegals have been deported &
    less people are crossing the border.

    I know you don't know this, but this info is so
    really easy to find.

    Stop listening to others and DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!!!!!!!
    Illegal immigration is way down, but we need to
    Fine & Jail employers who hire illegals, including those
    who cut Grass.

    April 17, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. goppatriot

    It disgusts me to see politicians pandering to the Criminal Illegal Mexicans who invaded our lands to do nothing but Take from Americans. The illegal Mexicans do not love America or the people,they only love what they can get from what we and our familys built for fellow Americans,not illegal Mexicans. Makes me laugh when I see the Illegals Shaking their fists demanding Amnesty when they steal and hurt the American worker then embrace the Mexican flag shaking the flag they are loyal to in our faces on a daily basis............ Get rid of these wetbacks that come here to get a free ride because Mexico wont give them one.........Deport them all.....Legal Latinos have brought this on themselves for helping the illegal Mexicans scam,cheat and steal from Taxpayers. The legal latinos care more for the illegal Mexicans and support them more than Americans and this is very noticeable to the Average American. The illegals are given jobs,places to live and a free handbook on how to take from the taxpayer......most legal latinos have done this themselves or know of people doing it turning a blind eye because its their fellow Mexicans they are loyal to doing it. They can care less how many Americans it hurts as long as their fellow Mexicans get the free ride and pass on our Taxpayer dollar..........Deport them all..

    April 17, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Tony

    We have in this country too many lilly white towns that may need to be infiltrared to find out exactly what they are doing. And in these towns too many racist live there that can carryout terrorist act. like the one in Boston

    April 17, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. Galactus93

    NO AMNESTY and NO LEGALIZATION of illegal aliens. We need our Federal Government to do their job and enforce our immigration laws. Deport all illegal aliens, secure the border and fine anyone who hires an illegal aliens. The Senate bill fails to even address the millions of illegal aliens working illegally in the United States and the fact that their employers owe fines. We need to make the employers pay the cost of deporting the illegal employees that they hire. We need jobs in the United States not more immigrants.

    April 17, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Guest

    Work visa, no benefits ever...thats it! Once a nation laws has become a nation of lawless that rewards criminals and places the burden on law abiding tax payers.

    April 17, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |