After Boston Bombing, Rand Paul Suggests Suspending Student Visas and Accepting Fewer Refugees



Upon learning that Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dhokar Tsarnaev were born in the Chechen Republic of Russia, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wrote a letter to Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV.) arguing that comprehensive immigration reform "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," writes Paul, "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?"

"Media reports indicate that both the bombing suspects were legal permanent residents and one is reported to be a naturalized citizen," Paul adds. "We need to make sure that we have safeguards against this type of situation happening again."

Paul also suggests suspending student visas, writing, "Do we need to take a hard look at student visas? Should we suspend student visas, or at least those from high-risk areas, pending an investigation into the national security implications of this program?"

You can read the full letter below:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510 

Dear Majority Leader Reid,

As our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those affected by the tragedy in Boston, I urge you to incorporate the following national security concerns into the comprehensive immigration reform debate. Before Congress moves forward, some important national security questions must be addressed.

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.

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? 

There should be hearings in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that study the national security aspects of this situation, making sure that our current immigration system gives individuals from high-risk areas of the world heightened scrutiny. 

In the wake of 9/11, there was a comprehensive reform of our intelligence gathering system, yet our improved intelligence gathering system did not adequately detect these extremists. We need to understand possible intelligence failures and craft solutions.

Media reports indicate that the deceased bombing suspect was interviewed by the FBI two years ago at the request of a foreign government. We need to know the details of this interview. We need to know if this interview might have given investigators any reason to conclude that this individual might be dangerous or at least worthy of further inquiry. If so, was there an intelligence failure? At the very least, it should be examined.

Media reports indicate that both the bombing suspects were legal permanent residents and one is reported to be a naturalized citizen.  We need to make sure that we have safeguards against this type of situation happening again.

In 2002, Congress set up the National Security Registration System (NSEERS), yet it was suspended in 2011 by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.  That system had problems, yet was still based on the practical idea that extra screening is necessary from nations that have a higher population of extremists. Congress might need a similar system updated for current circumstances to be rolled into comprehensive immigration reform.

I would like the US-VISIT/OBIM program studied to see if it actually works, or at least study the process by which we collect and analyze biometric data on immigrants.

Our refugee programs have proven to be a problem. On, January 29, 2013, two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, in my home state of Kentucky, were sentenced to long prison terms for participating in terrorism and providing material support to terrorists while living in the United States. How did this happen? Does the current immigration reform address how this might have happened? We may need more scrutiny when accepting refugees from high-risk nations. 

I want to make sure that any new bill addresses the visa entry and exit programs, in addition to refugee programs that have proven problematic in Bowling Green and possibly, if media reports are correct, in Boston.

Finally, do we need to take a hard look at student visas? Should we suspend student visas, or at least those from high-risk areas, pending an investigation into the national security implications of this program?

I respectfully request that the Senate consider the following two conditions as part of the comprehensive immigration reform debate: One, the Senate needs a thorough examination of the facts in Massachusetts to see if legislation is necessary to prevent a similar situation in the future. Two, national security protections must be rolled into comprehensive immigration reform to make sure the federal government does everything it can to prevent immigrants with malicious intent from using our immigration system to gain entry into the United States in order to commit future acts of terror.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Rand Paul, M.D.

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  1. The horrible slandering of Rand Paul continues in the pages of TReason. By printing Rand Paul’s own words, they have done him irreparable harm and proven that they love Obama and want to have his babies in gay marriage.

    Cocktail parties!

    1. The Jacket sends him mental vibrations via Bill Maher, making Rand say these things.

  2. We shouldn’t give student visas. Those university slots are for American Idiots, not foreign smart people. They’ll do better without our indoctrination anyway.

    1. Well, most universities are tax payer funded.

  3. The supporters of Comprehensive Immigration Reform got their bill and since it covers all aspects of immigration then what happened in Boston effects the bill. They wanted a massive bill in order to get as much support as possible, but that means that its all tied together and it can all come apart quicker then it went together.

    1. The people demanding aren’t the supporters, it’s the nativists. Every time a piecemeal bill comes up (e.g. the DREAM act), they complain that we can’t possibly consider it until we have a giant bill to “fix” the entire immigration system.

  4. What I propose is that we don’t let people in who plan to blow up other people.

    1. So our drone operators aren’t allowed to come home anymore?

        1. You can’t fool me. It is not spelled the same backwards as forwards.

    2. As opposed to picking tomatoes or changing sheets…

  5. Is he trying to save the whole by limiting the part?

  6. Disappointing. I see this as very much parallel to the gun controllers’ reaction to the school shooting. A stupid “do something” reaction that wouldn’t stop anything.

    1. Bullshit. Not even in the same ballpark as guns.

      1. Can you elaborate? In both cases people are proposing major changes of policy that would affect millions of innocent people in the hope of preventing a very few violent or crazy people from doing bad things which happen very rarely.

      2. The logic is very similar. It is absurd to restrict immigration because an infinitely small percentage of immigrants become terrorists.

    2. THIS^

      People, your chance of dying in a terrorist attack is zero. Grow the fuck up. There is nothing to be done here.

      1. Yeah. The terrorists have fucking won. This is the kind of reaction they expect. The only proper reaction is to clean up, mourn the victims, punish those responsible and get on with life.

      2. While the danger posed by terrorists is infinitesimal, as long as there’re going to be immigration controls anyway, why not let it be focused on terror concerns rather than jobs protectionism or sheer xenophobia? This looks like smart pro-liberty politics. The worse the terrorists look, the better all other immigrants look in comparison.

  7. Rand is absolutely correct. We have been taking too many refugees and foreign students. Heavy Emphasis on refugees.

    Look at Ohio, especially Columbus. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis with no work experience, no sanitation, no anything, were dumped during the 90s. So what did they become? The Columbus mayor decided it would be cool if they were given exclusive preference in government hiring. So now they all either work for the government, riot for govt housing/food,terrorist conspirators, or common criminals. Plus they are just the most obnoxious assholes on earth. They certainly haven’t been remotely good like the Cuban refugees were.

    1. ***Not to mention the diseases that came over with them.

      We could at LEAST be thourough with who we let into the country. We have the widest open borders we have ever had. At least during the great European immigration, we examined each immigrant for disease. Is that TOO much to ask for?

      1. But unlike citizens, those poor immigrants have a right to provacy about their medical condition.


      2. We have the widest open borders we have ever had.

        Now that’s just silly.

        1. Fine. You guys sound just like Europeans thirty years ago. Open borders and Multiculturalism will, just like in Europe, come back to bite in the ass.

          1. How did I get to be more than one person?

            I agree that the embrace of multiculturalism as a good in itself is a bad idea. Being all worried about who your ancestors are and where you are from is probably the root of most of the world’s problems. Open borders and a melting pot culture is a different animal.

      3. You think laws will prevent diseases from spreading?

        Fuck, we shoulda outlawed AIDS a while ago.

    2. I’m not saying seal up the borders, but could we at least be a little more selective in who we let in?

      1. You probably wouldn’t have made it. Your ancestors certainly wouldn’t have.

      2. I’d say we’re pretty fucking selective about who we let in. The stated goals of the selecting are just too large to be accurately and coherently accomplished by any centralized bureaucracy.

    3. There aren’t even 100,000 Somalians in the US, let alone Columbus. I call bullshit

    4. Refugees are expected to bring their own sanitation?

  8. Honestly, even hearing about the shit that allegedly “should have been” “looked into” or “red flags” or something, coming from a family of immigrants I was kind of horrified. I mean obviously there actually was something going on in this case, but can you imagine if ICE decided they needed to interrogate every legal permanent resident who had just come back from a several-months’ trip to his home country, where he would most likely be visiting family or just living normal life back home? That is just completely not chill.

    1. This already happens. It happened to me coming back from a couple of weeks in the home country in South America. I’ve been in the U.S. legally for 30 years. I’ve had a green card for 20.

      Waiting around for 30 minutes with two of my young children at midnight after a long flight was a fantastic experience. The lady was semi-apologetic and pointed at my son’s U.S. passport and said “this wouldn’t happen if you had one of these.” What I should have said, and of course didn’t was that I want one of those less and less every time something like this happens.

      I used to worry that some day I would not be allowed back in. Now I’m almost looking forward to that day. I worked very hard to get that green card, but sometimes I find myself wishing that I could travel back in time and tell that younger me “don’t bother.” I have a U.S. family now. It would be very hard for me to move them. Perhaps we’ll have no choice.

      We U.S. permanent residents are the most examined class of people on earth. I get fingerprinted and photographed every time I enter the country, to go along with all the pictures and documentation that I had to give to get the visa in the first place.

      And that was before September 11. They collect far more information now. Still, a friend’s green card said “unknown” for country of origin when it finally arrived. This after literally years of lawyers and paperwork…

      1. I’m sorry Jose. That’s some pretty annoying bullshit. My dad is in a similar situation to yours.

    2. …Another’s card was mailed to his old address. This is after he was repeatedly assured that it was ok for him to move if he filed the proper change of address form, which of course he did. After several frustrating hours on the phone, via email and with his lawyer, he managed to get another one mailed, this time to the correct address. Unfortunately, ICE still used the ZIP code from his old address. The post office, who of course ignored his change of address form in the first instance, once again returned his card to sender. He offered to drive to Nebraska and pick it up himself. This is not allowed, as you might expect.

      The idea that somehow giving these small, incompetent people more power over my life is going to help in any way is baffling and frightening. Maybe thanks to Senator Paul the day when I’m finally turned away at the border just got a little close. Maybe I’ll be even less disappointed than I would be now when this latest panic has run its course.

  9. Oh, Rand. Rand Rand Rand.


    1. My thoughts exactly, hundreds of thousands to maybe even millions (I’m too lazy to go look up the numbers right now) of immigrants are here in the country living normal lives and because about a dozen of them in the last decade have decided to attempt to become domestic terrorists it somehow constitutes a justification for restricting further immigration?

      Further these 2 had been here since they were kids. It is extremely hard to imagine that allowing 2 children into the country who a decade later turn into terrorists counts in any way shape or form as a “failure of INS”

  10. Why do we, the real American people, constantly accept appeasement and compromise? We must round up the heathens and the unbelievers. The nation is overrun with traitors and saboteurs.

    When will we rid ourselves of them?

  11. There is nothing so obvious as the intentions of the murderer, after the fact.

  12. Sounds like common sense to me. But I think common sense is a commodity that is sorely lacking in today’s political discourse.

    1. Really? Sounds to me like another overreaction that will hurt lots of perfectly innocent people and which probably wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy that it is being proposed in response to.

      1. So what restrictions, if any, would you put on immigration?

        1. If I were being practical, I’d say exclude people with violent criminal convictions or contagious diseases.

          1. How about if they come from countries, say Somalia, without much of a rule of law and consequently many unconvicted bad guys?

            1. Some people will slip through the cracks. If they commit a crime in the US, lock them up and/or deport them. Preventing someone from coming here because they might commit a crime (which is true of anybody, citizen, native, immigrant, etc.) is stupid and unjustified.

              1. My point is that “not convicted of a crime” means very little for someone coming from a failed state without a functioning justice system. Why then bother with anybody’s criminal record? This is like the guy looking for his wallet under a streetlight instead of in the alley where he lost it because the light is better.

  13. 3 people die in Boston (a city anyone outside of which nobody gives a single fuck about) and Rand goes all TEAM RED RAH RAH RAH?


    1. On second thought, everyone in Boston could die right now and I think the world would probably not even notice, except for the drop of assholes on the internet.

      1. OK, but for those who don’t regard the death of all Bostonians as a matter of indifference, there is the fact that terrorists were admitted to the US as refugees from persecution.

        Say what you will about our refugee program, but if we are giving special privileges of entering this country to people we designate as refugees, and a couple of these refugees end up killing Americans, you don’t have to be a “nativist” or “zenophobe” to worry about the situation.

        Sen. Paul is asking about people who are at the stage of applying for immigration status, including refugee status. At this stage, their rights under US law are much more limited than the rights of a US citizen. Yes, by all means let us ask why a couple terrorists got designated as refugees worthy of govt protection.

    2. It is not really “Team Red” as his father (who is the antithesis of Team Red) holds even more restrictive views on immigration. Instead, we could just look at this as Rand returning to the Hans-Hermann Hoppe wing of the Libertarian party. In my opinion, this was his plan from the start. Rand is a lot smarter a politician than his father. It was probably his design to come out with a statement suggesting he was in favor of “immigration reform”, then when the actual bill came up he’d have greater credibility when he came out against it because of some particular flaw that the left viewed as essential.

      I agree the argument he’s using is not the most intellectual. He’s appealing to the masses rather than reason. But a reasoned approach to the immigration debate would be dismissed as “racism” by the MSM, so it isn’t really Rand’s fault that we can’t discuss this issue like adults.

  14. They were not born and never lived in Chechnya. They were born and lived in Dagestan and Kyrgyzstan.

  15. I’m glad Rand Paul signed his letter “M.D.”. At first I thought he was full of shit, but now that I see he’s a doctor, his political position is valid.

    – Broseph of Invention, Esq., E.I.T., C.P.R. certified

  16. “Republican first, libertarian second” = Republican.

    1. …and doctrinal purity for all!

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