WASHINGTON D.C. (CNN) —
Another senator raised concerns on Sunday about taking up the new bipartisan immigration reform bill following last week’s terror attack in Boston. The two suspects – one of whom was killed in a shootout with police, the other is in federal custody – came to the country legally more than a decade ago.
Republican Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana said Sunday that Congress should wait until the emotional reaction to the violence subsides before tackling immigration legislation.
“We have a broken system, it needs to be reformed,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But I’m afraid we’ll rush to some judgments relative to immigration and how it’s processed. So let’s do it in a rational way rather than an emotional way.”
Passing legislation in such a manner, he added, ends up in “bad policy.”
GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa made headlines Friday when he said lawmakers shouldn’t rush the legislative process “given the events of this week” and was among the first to cite the Boston Marathon bombings in the immigration debate.
“It’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system,” Grassley said at the opening of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nearly 900-page bill.
“How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.?”
Coats said he agreed with Grassley and argued Capitol Hill needs to take its time on debating the issue.
“We saw some things post-9/11 that were enacted that if we had had a little bit more rational time to think this through, perhaps we wouldn’t have had some of the pushback on it,” he said.
The two suspects in Monday’s bombings are both of Chechen ethnicity but came to the United States in 2002 and 2006 from Kyrgyzstan. They were granted asylum and the younger brother became a naturalized citizen last year.
Those supportive of the new immigration plan, however, strongly hit back against critics on Sunday, saying the recent events in Boston are no reason to delay immigration reform.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of the “Gang of Eight” senators who drafted the immigration plan, said some on the right who opposed the bill “from the get-go” are simply using Boston “as an excuse” to stall the legislation.
“We are not going to let them do that,” the Democratic senator said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If they have a reason, a suggestion as to how to change it based on what happened in Boston, we’ll certainly be open to it. But we’re not going to let them use what happened in Boston as an excuse, because our law toughens things up.”
On the same program, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham – another Gang of Eight member – added that lawmakers who disagree can attempt to add amendments and debate their case and even vote against the bill. But he reiterated that the terror attack is no reason to stall it.
“We need to move on,” he said.
A third Gang of Eight member, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said their bill will make the country safer.
“The worst thing we can do is nothing. If we do nothing, leaving 11 million people in the shadows, not making our border safer, not having the information that comes from employment and these visa holders, we will be less safe in America,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
CNN’s Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.
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