Tsarnaevs don’t apply

There are lessons to be learned from last week’s Marathon bombing and the ensuing manhunt. But few, if any, apply to the immigration debate in Congress.

Republican lawmakers opposed to the reforms hammered out by a bipartisan group of eight senators spent much of this week’s Judiciary Committee hearings pounding on one fact: The Tsarnaev brothers were immigrants. Critics of comprehensive immigration reform are against creating a guest worker system or path to citizenship for illegal immigrants ostensibly because such provisions would insult the millions of people who come here legally. Both Tsarnaevs were here legally, and one had become a citizen. That didn’t deter some conservatives from invoking their names in opposing immigration reform — a move that revealed the broader anti-immigrant sentiment behind all that rhetoric about following the law.

In fact, the bill under debate would shore up national security, requiring that anyone applying for citizenship submit extensive biographic and biometric information and undergo a series of background checks. The bill would provide a far better accounting of who is actually in the country — thereby making it easier to separate out those who come here to commit crimes.


But such distinctions seem to matter little to the opponents in the Senate or the right-wing media. The Tsarnaev brothers were many things, but they were not illegal immigrants. The Boston bombings shouldn’t be used to advance the cynical agendas of those opposing immigration reform.