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Durbin: Immigration bill ‘will make us safer’ after Boston attack

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“Immigration reform will make us safer, and I hope that those that are critical of it will just come forward and say what their idea is,” Durbin said. 

Durbin is part of the Senate’s Gang of Eight, a group of four Democrats and four Republicans that released details of the sweeping legislation last week.

The bill’s release was somewhat overshadowed by a hectic news week that included the high profile failure of a gun control measure in Washington, the arrest of a man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and the events in Boston.

Critics of immigration reform have argued that Congress should move slowly after the suspects were revealed to be immigrants of Chechen ethnicity, who came to the U.S. when young.

Durbin shifted discussion from the bombing to the immigration legislation, which he said contained several provisions designed to directly address public safety.

The bill, Durbin noted, calls for measures to strengthen the border with Mexico, and would allow the nation’s undocumented immigrants to apply to become “registered provisional immigrants.”

“We are going to have 11 million people come forward and have an opportunity to register with our government, out of the shadows,” he said.

Durbin touted a provision in the bill that would dramatically expand the country’s electronic worker verification program. And an overhaul of the worker visa system would ensure “we can track visa holders who visit the United States to make sure they leave when they are supposed to,” Durbin said.

Some in Washington have suggested efforts to pass the bill would be colored by the bombing. Earlier Sunday Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) predicted the attack would have "a severe impact on the immigration debate."

"If people are coming from a country that has a severe terrorist background…there should be extra vetting for people from that country," King said on Fox News Sunday.

The younger of the two Boston bombing suspects, Kyrgyzstan-born Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, became a naturalized U.S. citizen on Sept. 11 of last year. He remains hospitalized in serious condition following his capture.

His older brother’s efforts to become a citizen were reportedly held up over concerns about his 2011 contact with the FBI. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed following a shootout with police.