Dec 11, 2013
Real American Boy: How Our Byzantine Immigration System and Failed Economy May Have Made a Terrorist
Posted on May 20, 2013
By Susan Zakin
It’s one of those twists of fate that the Boston bombings happened as the immigration debate heated up in Congress. Seizing the opportunity to block reform, Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky, brandished the security shibboleth, calling for “triggers” that would allow reforms only after security measures have been proven effective. Appearing before the Senate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano countered by testifying that the proposed bill would, in fact, provide additional security measures, and that blocking it would be counterproductive in the war against terror.
At a hearing on the legislation April 22, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, openly criticized immigration opponents for “exploiting” the Boston Marathon bombings to delay action on immigration reform. “Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people,” Leahy said.
Leahy might also have noted that it is in America’s self-interest to bring the country’s immigration system up to the standard set by nations such as Canada and Britain. That would mean paying attention to the advice of immigration experts Papademetriou and Kober, who recommended addressing “sets of circumstances” such as poverty and lack of education that apply to a broad swath of the population, rather than the problems of immigrants per se. Their strategy is aimed at defusing anti-immigrant sentiment, but it’s also an acknowledgement that there will never be enough prisons, even in America, to save us from a global generation of young men and women who are both jobless and hopeless.
When people feel their options are shut off, they begin looking at other options. For Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the only option he saw might have been the amateurish terrorism that left us staring at columns of smoke in disbelief. His citizenship papers were stalled, but like Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old video game obsessive who found a way to beat the numbers and join the pantheon of antiheroes, Tamerlan Tsarnaev just might have turned out to be a real American boy after all.
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