Tempers flare at Senate immigration hearing

WASHINGTON — Tempers flared at a Senate hearing on immigration legislation Monday as a Republican senator objected to a Democrat’s criticism of attempts by some to link the Boston Marathon bombings to the immigration bill.

“I never said that! I never said that!” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, interjected as Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., suggested that some were using the Boston bombings as “an excuse” to slow down or stop the bill.

Schumer said he wasn’t talking about Grassley, who said last week that the bombings raised question about gaps in the U.S. immigration system that should be examined in context of the new bill.

Meanwhile Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., accused Schumer of “demeaning” several witnesses called to Monday’s Judiciary Committee hearing by the GOP side. Schumer had complained about Sessions saying that business and labor officials backing the Democratic side on immigration were “special interests,” noting that the immigration bill has widespread support and asserting that the three witnesses scheduled to testify against the bill were “far more special interest.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., banged his gavel to settle the proceedings.

The exchange came as the Judiciary Committee opened its second hearing on sweeping legislation to strengthen border security, allow tens of thousands of new high- and low-skilled workers into the country, and provide an eventual path to citizenship for some 11 million immigrants now here illegally.

As happened at the first hearing Friday, the Boston Marathon bombings cast a shadow over the proceedings. The attacks were carried out by two ethnic Chechen immigrant brothers; both arrived legally and one was a naturalized U.S. citizens.

Leahy used part of his opening statement to chastise those who would link the bombings to the legislation. “Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people,” Leahy said.

He said the bill would strengthen national security by focusing on border security and enforcement.

Grassley bridled at Leahy’s comments, saying that when Leahy proposed gun legislation, “I didn’t accuse you of using the Newtown killings as an excuse.”

“I think we’re taking advantage of an opportunity where once in 25 years we deal with immigration to make sure that every base is covered,” Grassley said.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., raised similar concerns in a letter Monday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., telling him, “We should not proceed until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system.” Paul also said that national security protections must be part of any immigration legislation to ensure the federal government does everything it can to keep immigrants “with malicious intent” from using the immigration system to enter the country to commit acts of terror.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also weighed in on the matter Monday, telling an interviewer on Fox News’ “American Newsroom,” “I’m in the camp of, if we fix our immigration system, it may actually help us understand who all is here, why they’re here, and what legal status they have.”

More in Local News

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Man, 29, injured by shots fired at Everett thrift store

The gunfire followed an argument in the parking lot of Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Police: He made an appointment, then tried to rob the bank

A lawyer is accused of donning a fake beard and telling a teller that a gunman was outside.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

In adult court, four teens plead not guilty to murder

Prosecutors allege they worked together to plan and execute a drug robbery in Everett.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

Front Porch

SCHOOL’S OUT Local libraries have a lot happening to keep students occupied… Continue reading

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

Most Read