WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON — The Senate's leading supporters of overhauling the nation's immigration system sought Sunday to blunt a conservative effort to slow the pace of debate over their bill, saying the Boston Marathon bombings are a reason to move quickly to make changes.
"What happened in Boston and international terrorism I think should urge us to act quicker, not slower," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of a bipartisan group of eight senators who last week introduced a bill that would rewrite U.S. immigration laws, including for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
Graham, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," argued that "now is the time to bring all the 11 million out of the shadows and find out who they are. Most of them are here to work, but we may find some terrorists in our midst."
Graham's comments came after conservative commentators and lawmakers began urging a slower pace in considering new laws in light of the investigation into last Monday's bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 170.
The two ethnic Chechen brothers suspected of setting off the bombs immigrated to the United States from Kyrgyzstan as minors in 2002. The older one, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed last week in a shootout with police. The other, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was taken into custody by authorities on Friday and was hospitalized for gunshot wounds. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen in 2012.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee's first hearing on the immigration bill Friday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, suggested that the Boston bombings should slow the pace of the reform effort, because learning the details about the immigration status of the suspects would raise new questions about current laws that should be addressed first. Other conservatives have also warned against rushing to act as the investigation unfolds.