Paul to Reid: Move Immigration Bill to Homeland Security Committee

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to make sure that the immigration reform bill passes through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Reid assured Paul after his first request that the committee would hold hearings regarding immigration and border security. But Paul said that's not enough and wants debate and amendments to start at the committee.

"As I stated in my previous letter to you on April 22 of this year, I believe it is critical for the Senate to fully review and consider the events that led to the tragic bombing in Boston last month," Paul wrote Reid yesterday. "Most importantly, we must learn how persons admitted to and residing legally in the United States—from a dangerous region of the world, no less—could fall through the cracks, progress through the immigration process, and remain in the United States, where they were able to carry out vicious attacks despite being subjected to a significant amount of scrutiny during their immigration processing."

"At the same time that we are trying to learn how the warning signs that might have stopped this horrible tragedy were missed, the Senate is pushing ahead with consideration of new immigration reform legislation."

Paul noted that senators are receiving indications that "this enormous piece of legislation will be expedited to the fullest extent possible." Reid has said he wants the Group of Eight's bill passed in the next two months.

"It has been argued that immigration has already been debated for years and, while that may be true, it most certainly is not the case with this legislation. It was drafted behind closed doors and has only been available for review for a few weeks," Paul wrote. "Further, the investigation of the events in Boston has barely begun. The Senate needs time to further examine the Boston case and the immigration issues it raises, and work to apply whatever reforms are needed, before we rush to pass legislation that will have an uncertain impact over generations."

Paul stressed that Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the place to be "amended and refined." So far review of the bill has been up to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Having HSGAC also markup the immigration reform bill will only make the bill stronger and our nation safer," the Kentucky Republican wrote. "I strongly urge the immigration bill be referred to HSGAC for further debate and amendments, especially in regards to provisions relating to functions of the Department of Homeland Security, such as immigration processing and security screening (including student visas and refugees), and also to consider how to address gaps in visa exit tracking.  You should, in discussion with the leadership of HSGAC, make this referral as soon as the Judiciary Committee has completed its own markup of the bill."