Washington: The comprehensive immigration reform should not be made a casualty of the Boston marathon attacks as the move would help enhance the nation`s security, the White House said in a statement today.
"One of the positive effects and one of the reasons why we need comprehensive immigration reform is because it will enhance, when implemented, our national security," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"We will continue to press forward the Congress in a bipartisan way to move this legislation," Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
He was responding to questions in the opposition to the comprehensive immigration reform by some lawmakers.
As the immigration reform law is debated on the floor of the Senate, reform advocates feared the questions arising from the Boston bombings allegedly carried out by two immigrant brothers of Chechen-origin who were living in the US legally would derail the drive for change.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, one of the suspects in the last week`s bombings, was a naturalised US citizen. His brother and another suspect, Tamerlan, 26, who died after a shootout with police on Friday, was in the country legally and had applied for US citizenship.
"The process of moving along the earned path to citizenship and the various hurdles that have to be cleared in that process, allows for much more information to be known by the relevant authorities and agencies about these individuals, and that`s very important," Carney said.
"It also enhances the entry and exit procedures that are part of the immigration process.
"So we will continue to press forward in a bipartisan way with Congress to move this legislation because it`s the right thing to do for the middle class, for our security and for our economy," he said.
Republican Senator Rand Paul in a letter to the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, today called for halting the debate on immigration reform, in the wake of the terrorist attack in Boston last week.
"I believe that any real comprehensive immigration reform must implement strong national security protections.
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," Paul said in his letter.
"We should not proceed until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system.
"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? Were there any safeguards? Could this have been prevented? Does the immigration reform before us address this?" the Senator said.