The Boston Marathon bombings allegedly carried out by legal immigrants from Eastern Europe do not have "any relevance" to the ongoing debate over how to overhaul the nation's immigration system, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat of Maryland, said on Tuesday.
"Those that try to make a connection between the two are not right," Hoyer told reporters during a weekly briefing
After two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon last week, some Republicans called for delaying movement on the new federal immigration bill that a bipartisan group of senators unveiled on Wednesday morning.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently conducting a series of hearings about the bill to examine how it will affect the economy, border enforcement and immigrants living illegally in the United States. During one of those hearings on Monday, a discussion over whether the bombings should influence the immigration bill's progress became heated when New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer claimed some were using the attack as "an excuse" to derail the bill. Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee chairman, also suggested that it would be "cruel" to cite the bombings as a reason to vote against immigration reform.
Hoyer said Leahy was "absolutely right" in condemning those who use the bombings to delay the bill. He added that lawmakers, however, could examine how the alleged suspects entered the country and obtained citizenship for guidance on how to make the bill stronger.
"We can learn some lessons as we look at people for visas, for entry into the United States. If there are lessons to be learned, that's fine," he said. "But I don't think it has any relevance as it relates to the immigration reform that is critically necessary for our economy, for the welfare of our people."