Grassley requests immigration history of New York bombing suspect

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

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators 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 NielsenEx-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' MORE and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump House passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet 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 TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement 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.