Rand Paul: Delay Immigration Reform Because Of Boston Attacks

Another Senator wants to delay immigration reform because of the attacks in Boston.

Rand Paul Filibuster

Senator Rand Paul has joined the list of those calling for a delay in discussions about immigration reform because of the issues raised by the attacks in Boston:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday threw some cold water on the just-begun process ofdebating new immigration legislation, saying any such push should be delayed until after the country can address why the two suspected Boston bombers were allowed to immigrate to the United States.

“We should not proceed until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system,” Paul said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republic in Russia, an area known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism?”

Paul added: “The facts emerging in the Boston Marathon bombing have exposed a weakness in our current system. If we don’t use this debate as an opportunity to fix flaws in our current system, flaws made even more evident last week, then we will not be doing our jobs.”

I addressed the merits of the arguments of people like Paul regarding how to proceed in immigration reform in my post yesterday. As I noted in that post, it’s completely illegitimate to try to tie the Boston attacks to “failures of our immigration system” as Paul calls it. When the Tsarnaev brothers came to the United States, they were roughtly 8 and 14 years old respectively. How, exactly, were the relevant immigration officials that handled their family’s refugee status request supposed to make any determination about what might happen more than ten years in the future when those two boys would become adults? It’s absurd, of course, just as it’s absurd to point to the Tsarnaev case as an example of anything relevant in the immigration reform debate. There were no immigration failures in the Tsarnaev case because, at the time they entered the country, there were obviously no signs that the Tsarnaev children, or the family, were some kind of national security threat, at least not according to any evidence available to us today.

There’s one other issue that comes to mind.

The only reason that “border security” is an issue in the immigration reform debate is because it’s fairly clear that there’s no way that a reform package can make it through Congress without Republican support, and there’s no way it’s going to get Republican support is if it addresses border security in some manner. Ideally, border security would be seen for what it is, a national security issue, and not tied up in a debate over reforming a broken immigration system. The same goes for any issues related to terrorism. Just as “border security” has become wrapped up in the immigration debate for political reasons, it’s entirely possible that the same thing will happen with the terrorism issue. What that means for the future of immigration reform remains to be seen.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ben says:

    I guess Rand isn’t that libertarian after all, huh? Or at least, he lets the little Republican on his shoulder overrule the little Libertarian from time to time.

  2. legion says:

    Let’s see… we can’t work on immigration reform, we can’t work on gun control, we can’t work on job creation, we can’t work on federal bench appointments, we can’t work on other executive nominations. So, what exactly _can_ we push legislation for? REPEALING OBAMACARE! That’ll get the GOP back in the White House!

  3. C. Clavin says:

    The more I hear from Rand Paul, the more I realize he’s just as big a phony as the rest of the Republican Party.
    His rant against the citizens of Newtown, CT being in Washington and petitioning their Representatives was jaw-dropping in it’s level of hypocrisy.
    This is just more piled higher and deeper.

    How many teenagers have immigrated to the US since the Brothers Tsarnaev? How many have set off bombs? How many have gone on to be decent citizens?

    Republicans have nothing if they have not fear. Whether it is gun-control or immigration or voter fraud. If party leadership cannot jack up the paranoia of it’s constituents…then it has nothing at all to sell. It certainly has no new ideas. All it has is the same ol’ stuff: Obama is coming to take your guns. The immigrants are coming to take your jobs. Those “other people” who take you money thru welfare are voting two, three, four times and stealing elections so that they can take even more welfare.

  4. CB says:

    So, because we have a faulty immigration system that potentially let two undesirable elements into the country and led to attacks, we have to delay reforming our faulty immigration system. Got it.

  5. Jeremy R says:


    I guess Rand isn’t that libertarian after all, huh? Or at least, he lets the little Republican on his shoulder overrule the little Libertarian from time to time.

    Even when he’s given credit for taking a civil libertarian stance he’s usually really doing the opposite. Like when he was engaged in his domestic citizen drone strike scare-mongering he actually introduced legislation to legalize the fictitious practice under the right circumstances.

  6. stonetools says:

    So Rand Paul is not longer a Libertarian, eh? Guess he’s back to being plain old obstructionist Republican.
    I used to think the immigration bill would likely pass. Now I think the Republicans will likely block it now.

  7. Mercer says:

    ” what might happen more than ten years in the future ”

    I think after 9/11 our government should have recognized Muslim immigrants would be more likely to become terrorists than non-Muslim immigrants.

  8. matt bernius says:


    I think after 9/11 our government should have recognized Muslim immigrants would be more likely to become terrorists than non-Muslim immigrants.

    But at what percentage?

    This type of thinking — given the amount of arrests/terrorist incidents involving non-native Muslims in the time since 9/11 — is akin to people on the left arguing that “it should be recognized that gun owners are more likely to take part in mass shootings than non-gun owners”.

    Especially since the implied unanswered question within your posts so far is “why are we letting in so many potential terrorists?”

    This get’s to the larger farce of Rand Paul and other’s who are using this event as an arguement against immigration reform. These are the same individuals who have spent the last few months arguing that we cannot take the actions of a handful of “irresponsible” gun owners (which combined, claimed the lives of far more people than this recent bombing) as a rational for the further regulation of firearms.

  9. Mercer says:

    matt bernius:

    I am not against additional regulations on guns unlike some on the right. I do recognize, as does the Supreme Court, that the second amendment gives citizens a right to have guns so any regulations should not eliminate citizens right to own guns.

    ” question within your posts so far is “why are we letting in so many potential terrorists?””

    Foreigners have no right to come to the US so why not choose immigrants who have the lowest risk to the country?

  10. al-Ameda says:

    The reality is, Republicans do not want any part of the “bi-partisan” efforts of the Senate group. This will probably play out like Manchin-Toomey – insurmountable 60 vote majority needed, and Republicans claiming that the proposed bill weakened national security.

  11. Caj says:

    Of course! No surprise there. Some Republicans have never really wanted any form of immigration reform. Let them all self deport as brain box Mitt Romney suggested!! Any excuse to delay, delay, delay. Democrats should stand firm and push this forward, it needs to get done.
    Should have been done years ago anyway. It’s only putting off the inevitable.

  12. Terrye says:

    Rand Paul does support immigration reform however. I do think that they can do both things…look at this attack and still pass a bill. In fact, they may want to work some changes in. I heard Jane Harmon say that they might want to look more closely at immigrants from certain countries.

  13. Paul Hooson says:

    Gee, it only seemed like just days ago that this visionary politician was so worried that the Obama Administration might possibly use drones to strike at terrorists that he filibustered. It sure didn’t take very long to see the short-sightedness of that since last week’s terror attack news and today’s news of a new foiled plot from Canada. The U.S. needs all weapons at it’s disposal in the event of preventing terrorism.

  14. superdestroyer says:


    Maybe Paul is taking the long term view of libertarians and realizes that if you let an unlimited number of third world immigrants into the U.S., there will be less freedom. That as immigrants become citizens, they will become automatic Democratic Party voters who will demand more taxes, more spending, and more ethnic set asides.