Conservative media figures are using the Boston Marathon bombings to pressure lawmakers to halt attempts at immigration reform, the details of which were released last week by eight bi-partisan members of the Senate known as the "Gang of Eight." By suggesting that immigration reform could facilitate future terrorist attacks, right-wing media are attempting to obstruct legislation that a majority of Americans support.
Conservative Media Figures Use Boston Bombings To Attack Immigration Reform
Ann Coulter: Tsarnaev Brothers Were "Unemployed Losers - The Kind Of Immigrant U.S. Welcomes." On the Friday following the attacks on Boston, Ann Coulter wrote on Twitter, "It's too bad Suspect #1 won't be legalized by Marco Rubio, now." She later tweeted: "Suspects' uncle of says they were unemployed losers - the kind of immigrant U.S. welcomes! Danish surgeons: Sorry, no room," and "Our immigration policies are insane. Mass amnesty is not the solution." [Twitter, 4/19/13, 4/19/13, 4/19/13]
Mark Levin: "We Have To Put The Brakes On" Immigration Reform. On the April 19 edition of The Mark Levin Show, host Mark Levin concluded a discussion of the Boston attacks with a call to halt immigration reform, saying, "We need to put the brakes on this stuff right now." [Cumulus Media Networks, The Mark Levin Show, 4/19/13]
Fox News Contributor Laura Ingraham Claimed That Immigration Bill "Needs To Be Stopped." Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham echoed Coulter's sentiments on the April 16 edition of her radio show, using the Boston attacks to stoke fears about immigration reform. Ingraham then claimed on April 22 that immigration legislation "doesn't need to be delayed. It needs to be stopped." [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 4/16/13, 4/22/13]
Conservative Media Figures Who Link Bombings and Immigration Are Opposed To Reform
Ann Coulter Said That U.S. Should Only Take "The Best Immigrants," Not "The Cousins Of A Senegalese." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/7/12, via Media Matters]
Mark Levin Attacked Sen. Graham And Speaker Boehner For "Plotting In Secret" To Promote Immigration Reform Compromise. [Cumulus Media Networks, The Mark Levin Show, 3/20/13, 4/9/13, via Media Matters]
Laura Ingraham Claimed Senate Bill "Is Amnesty," And That Reform Will Be "The End Of The Republican Party." [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 4/17/11, 4/17/11, via Media Matters]
Immigration Reform Is Irrelevant To Boston Bombings
Boston Suspects Were Legal Immigrants Who Came To The U.S. As Children. In an article for The Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz wrote:
The first thought upon learning that the suspects were the Tsarnaev brothers, and that they had attended school in the United States, is that we're letting dangerous folks in on student visas. But the family, with ties to the disputed Russian region of Chechnya, is said to have emigrated here in 2002--when one brother would have been about 7 and the other about 14.
Dzhokhar, the younger brother captured by police, who graduated two years ago from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, is in fact a naturalized citizen. He isn't an illegal immigrant or a person who overstayed his visa. His older brother, now dead, had a legal green card. [The Daily Beast, 4/21/13]
Boston Suspects Were Political Refugees. Unlike the vast majority of undocumented immigrants whom immigration reform would affect, the Tsarnaev brothers were political refugees. According to The Washington Post:
With their baseball hats and sauntering gaits, they appeared to friends and neighbors like ordinary American boys. But the Boston bombing suspects were refugees from another world -- the blood, rubble and dirty wars of the Russian Caucasus. [The Washington Post, 4/19/13]
U.S. Terrorism Has Little To Do With Illicit Border Crossings. Immigration reform deals primarily with immigrants who crossed the border illegally. In an article for The Washington Post, Dylan Matthews explained that terrorism has little to do with illicit border crossings:
What's more, the best information we have suggests that terrorism doesn't have a whole lot to do with illicit border crossings in general. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland put out a report in December detailing 221 border crossings by people later indicted in a federal terrorism-related case. Those crossings were associated with 43 terrorist attacks between 1975 and 2001.
It's possible that the database START uses leaves out some crossings of people who weren't indicted for terrorist acts they committed, so START urges those using its data to exercise caution when comparing that with the total number of U.S. terrorist attacks during that time period. But for the record, there were 1,532 attacks total, of which the border crossing-related attacks make up a measly 2.8 percent. Again, that's a rough low-end figure, but given that the vast majority of attacks in the START database come from the Earth Liberation Front or the Animal Liberation Front, which are predominantly domestic groups, it's likely not too far off. [The Washington Post, 4/22/13]
Immigration Legislation Will Maintain Previously Strengthened Refugee And Asylum Programs. In criticizing those who tied the Boston attacks to immigration reform, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) advised people "not to jump to conclusions regarding the events in Boston, or try to conflate those events with this legislation," and noted that "both the refugee program and the asylum program has significantly strengthened in the past five years, such that we are much more careful about screening people and determining who should and should not be coming into the country." [The New York Times, 4/20/13]