As negotiations continue in the Senate over the language for a comprehensive immigration bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved forward Tuesday with a measure prompted by concerns inspired by last month's Boston bombings.
The amendment, which passed out of committee unanimously on Tuesday, makes monitoring requirements on foreign students more stringent, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to implement the "real-time transmission of" student visa information to databases used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection across the country.
According to a Judiciary Committee spokeswoman, the legislation, proposed by the committee's top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was prompted by the fact that Azamat Tazhayakov, one of the students charged as an accomplice in the bombings, had a nullified visa. Tazhayakov had not registered for school when he returned from Kazhakstan, and his visa was consequently pulled. The border agent who allowed him to re-enter the country, however, did not have that information in his computer.
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security enacted a similar policy, ordering border agents to verify student visas at ports of entry.
In the wake of the Boston bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260, a handful of senators involved in the immigration reform negotiations debated whether the attack should impact the legislative efforts. Grassley was among those who argued that in light of the April bombings, "it's important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system."