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It's complicated: Boston Marathon attacks could 'throw a wrench' into immigration reform

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The greater implications of the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks are emerging, and it’s a complicated business. So says Wake Forest University political professor Peter Siavelis, who is also director of the Latin American and Latino Studies program on the campus.

“This could throw a wrench in the entire immigration reform process and bring back some of the xenophobia that derailed the process in 2001, when we were closer than ever to a comprehensive reform,” Mr. Siavelis says. “With the discovery of the identity of the Boston Marathon bombers, debate on immigration reform is mistakenly going down the same road that it did following the September 11, 2001 attacks.”

He cites Sen. Chuck Grassley in particular. The Iowa Republican, the professor says, has cited the immigration status of the bombers as a reason to “proceed carefully” on reform.

“This is a mistake. Comprehensive immigration reform and the Boston bombers are completely unrelated. All documented cases of terrorist plots, both alleged and discovered, have involved people entering the country legally and according to existing immigration legislation - including the Boston bombers according to information we have up until now,” the Mr. Siavelis reasons.

“Not a single case has involved anyone who has illegally crossed the southern border of the US. The debate on comprehensive immigration reform really deals with the 11 million undocumented individuals here now, most of whom are Latino. Their fate should not be erroneously tied to two men who have terrorized Boston,” he concludes.

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