Terrorism and Public Policy

Kevin Drum was asked a few days ago who he was secretly hoping the bombers would turn out to be. His answer was “whatever kind of person is least likely to have any effect whatsoever on public policy.” And that’s a good answer. Because such situations are often exploited to support very bad policies (Patriot Act, anyone?).

And Drum is correct that the right will use this as a reason to kill immigration reform, despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing in that bill that would have anything remotely to do with this situation. As Greg Sargent notes, conservatives are already trying to use it as a reason to kill the compromise immigration bill that would provide undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship (a very difficult and cumbersome path, by the way).

Some on the right are already pouncing on the news to cast doubt on the desirability of immigration reform…

Meanwhile, over at the Washington Examiner, Conn Carroll, a Rubio critic and immigration reform skeptic, wrote that we still don’t know a good deal about the two brothers, adding that today’s planned Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the new immigration reform proposal should be delayed. “Today is not the day for an immigration hearing,” Carroll concluded…

It’s unclear thus far how widespread the effort among conservatives will be to connect the Boston bombing suspects to the immigration reform debate. But it’s certainly something that bears watching. If this argument picks up steam, it will be another indication of how ferocious the resistance on the right to immigration reform is going to get.

But nothing in the immigration package would have prevented the Tsernaev family from being granted asylum 11 years ago or prevented Dzhokhar Tsernaev from getting American citizenship. They were entirely legal immigrants, which the anti-reform folks say they’re all for. The only way this is at all relevant to the immigration debate is if you’re taking the position that we should not let anyone come into the country at all, for any reason. And that’s the kind of position taken only by xenophobic and racist authoritarians.

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  • Doug Little

    And that’s the kind of position taken only by xenophobic and racist authoritarians

    So pretty much most of the republican hard liners then.

  • gshelley

    The only way this is at all relevant to the immigration debate is if you’re taking the position that we should not let anyone come into the country at all, for any reason.

    Or of you are taking Bryan Fischer’s position that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in

  • becca

    Trouble is, the family was religiously secular when they first came to the States, from what I’ve read. the older son didn’t get into Islam from a religious (as opposed to cultural) viewpoint until later.

  • cry4turtles

    Personally I’m shocked at how difficult and cumbersome the path to citizenship is. Levying ridiculous fines and backtaxes, how many come with pockets full of money? Impossible much?

  • fastlane

    The Daily Show had a great take on the immigration reform (and it’s amazing just how hard the Rs are making it to actually become a citizen).

  • neonsequitur

    If there’s a public policy lesson here, I hope everyone takes a good hard look at the bomber’s history of marijuana use. What I mean is, his mother was worried about his lifestyle because he was smoking too much dope, and encouraged him to become religious. This did not end well. He quit smoking dope after becoming a religious fanatic, and decided to pursue blowing people up as a new past-time instead.

    From a public policy standpoint, maybe marijuana ain’t so bad. And even if it is, religion is NOT the answer. In any case, the kid wasn’t blowing people up when he was on drugs.

  • To be fair, the GOP would take any excuse to scuttle immigration reform. I’m surprised they took one so quickly. I was sure they’d drag it out for a while.

    Sure, there are some there who see the need to cynically reach out to a growing group, if only to forestall the death of the party, but they’re fighting the very Nativists they’ve been riding for decades. And, since the Senate needs 60 to do anything and the House won’t bring up a bill unless a majority of the GOP there are for it, it doesn’t take many of them to break things even their own party is half-heartedly for.