In light of groundless speculation that Monday's twin bombings at the Boston Marathon was the work of a foreign national, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said in an interview, lawmakers should tread lightly on immigration reform proposals tendered by a Senate group Tuesday that would give temporary legal status to 11 million undocumented immigrants.
"Some of the speculation that has come out is that yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa," King told the National Review on Tuesday morning. "If that's the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture."
President Obama in a press conference Tuesday said that while the bombings, which killed three and injured over 100 more, are being classified as "an act of terror," federal investigators haven't yet determined whether they were carried out by an organization or a "malevolent individual."
One Saudi national studying at a Boston-area university on a student visa was injured in the explosions, and was initially questioned by law enforcement. Investigators say the man, in his 20s, is currently being treated a Boston hospital and is not being termed a person of interest.
King said in the interview that in light of the bombings, national security should trump the push for a pathway to citizenship - one of the key tenets of the immigration plan put forward Tuesday by a bipartisan "gang of eight" senators.
"We need to be ever vigilant," King said. "We need to go far deeper into our border crossings... We need to take a look at the visa-waiver program and wonder what we're doing. If we can't background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background check the 11 to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?"
Members of the "gang of eight" senators, which for months have been working on crafting a bill that would tighten current immigration laws and deal with the millions of illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, postponed a press conference scheduled for Tuesday but released the legislation to the public. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the bill Friday and Monday.