Immigration Reform 2013: Will the Boston Bombing Kill Reform?


The Boston bombing presses a newly driven opposition to the safety concerns at risk with the current immigration bill. However, how much of a role should the Tsarnaev brothers play in defining the conversation as immigrants themselves?

On April 15, two Russian immigrants concocted a devastating attack on the city of Boston during an annual marathon. The city was spurred into nearly a weeklong frenzy before the perpetuators were finally caught. Yet, as soon as the identities of the individuals were determined, the media inspired a range of conversations delving into the history of the Chechnya conflict, dubbing the assault as an Islamic act of terror and immigration. Politicians and journalists began exchanging dialogue regarding the safety regulations that would be at risk with the introduction of a new immigration bill.

However, to be clear, the immigration bill in discussion does not make it by any means easy for immigrants to become documented citizens. The bill would only allow an estimated 11 million current immigrants eligibility for citizenship, 13 years after they have paid their taxes and a $2,000 fine. While new guest-worker programs would permit more foreign workers, employers would be "required to verify the legal status of employees." Furthermore, the "Southwestern border would be bolstered with a double-layer fence, surveillance drones and more law enforcement personnel." Following the Boston bombing, politicians such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) provided possible provisions to the bill that would assuage others from security concerns. Of these concerns, Rubio suggested reducing the "number of visas available to Muslim students." In an interview with Fox News, Rubio stated, "I don't [like] singling out anybody or generalizing anything. On the other hand, student visas are not a right [...] student visas are something this country does because we have figured out it's in our national interest."

Let's take a step back. The Boston bombing was an act of terror led by two young men. These men happened to be immigrants of Russian descent who had been, as of late, influenced by a radical interpretation of Islam. However, it would be wrong to subject these two men's identities as representations of all immigrants and all Muslims. Just as it would be wrong for the Columbine or Aurora or Newtown shooting to represent all white-males coming from American middle-class families. It's easy to blame and discriminate against false pretenses, but it's an awful shame that in this day and age people of different ethnic and minority backgrounds sit at the edge of their seats hoping that it's not someone from their community perpetuating the crime. The Boston bombing was an attack on our entire nation — including immigrants and Muslims.

Immigrants are drawn to our country in hopes of attending achievements characterized and promised by 'The American Dream.' They, too, dream of living a life free of worry and the satisfaction of enjoying physical and mental security. They leave their culture, history and, many times, family to pursue a life that envisions freedom. However to begin a life that most likely voids any previous achievements (i.e. academic degrees, certified skills), narrows job employment and debates the question of your residency is far from the dream they began chasing.

Our nation was founded through the settlement of immigrants. In fact, we impressed our communities on already occupied land and embarked a home, without justifiable consent of its already established inhabitants. We trademarked the American Dream — a global appeal that represents the ultimate success. We created traditions — and through these traditions, history. Yet decades later, a country founded on the basis of immigration finds itself debating on the future of incoming immigrants.

The current immigration bill doesn't even begin to address the rights that these immigrants deserve, but it provides a start. However, bringing 11 million individuals out of an underground economy and poverty will not only provide improving standards, but also stimulate our national economy. While the Boston bombing suspects provide concerns in the larger discussion of security among the immigration reform, they should not have the influence of being able to define entire populations.