Rubio breaks with Dems on immigration bill's asylum, student visa provisions

“Congress should be provided with a thorough investigation of the bombing before we make any changes to our asylum provisions or our student visa system because the lessons we will learn from an investigation will allow us to identify and correct the flaws in the current system that exposed us to this attack,” he said.  

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Rubio signed off on a draft of comprehensive immigration reform before two immigrants set off bombs that injured more than 200 people. The bill was released a day after the bombing.

Both bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, received legal status after their father was granted asylum from Russia. Two friends of Dzhokhar who attempted to cover up links to the attack had lapsed student visas.

Grassley has asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano why Customs and Border Protection did not have access to the Student and Exchange Visitors Information System, and the FBI about intelligence failures. He hasn't received responses.

“We have to understand and address these and other failures before proceeding with some of the provisions of the bill, namely asylum measures and student visa changes,” said Grassley.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted Grassley’s amendment would delay changes to asylum and student visa law until a year after the Director of National Intelligence submits to lawmakers a review of intelligence failures.

“This amendment has a lot of other issues in it, some of which could be construed to be political,” she said. 

“I don’t think we should punish asylum seekers and foreign college students for the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers just because the brothers’ father had sought asylum in the United States and the student visa status of one of Dzhokhar’s Tsarnaev’s college classmates had been terminated.”

Rubio plans to address the issue after the Judiciary Committee’s markup.

“Sen. Rubio will fight to ensure that we have a complete understanding of what allowed the Boston bombings to occur and will make sure that we make the needed changes to close any holes in our immigration system to prevent future acts of terrorism in the United States," said Conant.