By Justin Sink
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that he was worried that last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon would make it tougher to pass the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill.
In an interview with Fox News, Rubio responded "yes" when asked if the attacks had made the path to passage a more difficult one. But the Florida lawmaker also said that lawmakers could use the terrorist attack to inform their deliberations.
"Listen, if Boston exposes flaws in our system, immigration or otherwise, we should address that and we should address that in this bill, if possible, of course," Rubio said, adding the bill would require those in the country to undergo a background check.
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brothers accused of the marathon bombings, emigrated to the United States from Russia as children. They were granted refugee status as ethnic Chechens.
Dzhokhar was naturalized as a citizen in 2012; Tamerlan, the elder brother, saw his citizenship application put on hold after the Russian government raised concerns about possible ties to Chechen terrorism.
In the interview, Rubio also responded to the suggestion by some commentators that the United States reduce the number of visas available to Muslim students. Rubio said that while he did not like "profiling anybody," student visas were "not a right."
"I don't singling out anybody or generalizing anything," Rubio said. "On the other hand, student visas are not a right; student visas are something this country does out of generosity; student visas are something this country does out because we have figured out it's in our national interest."
Rubio added that the country could "place whatever restrictions we want on student visas" and that he was not ready "to take a firm position on what those restrictions should be."
"I want to learn about what would have worked and what might have worked to prevent past attacks," Rubio said.
Rubio also said he was not concerned that the Boston bombing might slow the pace of immigration — just that he hoped it did not derail the process entirely.
“I’ve never said this has to be done quickly," Rubio said. "This country has been struggling with this for three decades. Let’s do it right so we don’t have to do it again."