Grassley requests immigration history of New York bombing suspect

Grassley requests immigration history of New York bombing suspect
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Five hurdles to a big DACA and border deal Grand jury indicts Maryland executive in Uranium One deal: report MORE (R-Iowa) is asking the Trump administration to provide details on the immigration history of the man accused of carrying out a would-be suicide bombing in a New York City subway passage on Monday.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Hoyer blasts Trump for 'racist rhetoric' MORE and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonDecline in US travel spurs business push for visitors Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Mattis: North Korea situation 'sobering' MORE, Grassley questioned the process by which Akayed Ullah, 27, was able to enter the U.S., pointing to media reports that he had emigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 on a visa for relatives of American citizens.

The suspect's uncle was reportedly a U.S. citizen, who petitioned for Ullah's mother to receive a visa to come to the country. Ullah himself was then granted permission to come to the U.S. 

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"If these sources are correct, this further highlights the need to consider whether our country is best served by a family, non-skills based legal immigration system," Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to the Trump officials.

In questions to Nielsen, Grassley requested information on whether Ullah had prior criminal convictions and whether he was on any terrorism watch lists. 

Grassley separately asked Tillerson whether Ullah had applied for or had ever been denied a visa, and requested a timeline of any of Ullah's applications or petitions for visas. 

Ullah was arrested on Monday after he detonated a crude pipe bomb in a tunnel connecting the Times Square subway station and the Port Authority bus terminal. He was badly injured in the explosion, and three other people sustained only mild injuries. No one was killed in the incident.

Ullah said that he had carried out the attack in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Syria and elsewhere, and said that he chose the subway passageway because of its Christmas-themed posters.

Many Republicans including Grassley have sought to curb so-called chain migration, in which U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor family members in other countries for green cards.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE on Tuesday demanded that Congress end the immigration preferences for family members of permanent U.S. residents, pointing to Monday's attempted bombing and a separate attack last month in New York in making the case for his immigration agenda.