Gillibrand rebuts Grassley, says Boston bombings have nothing to do with immigration reform

Gillibrand at the Waldorf Astoria. (Dana Rubinstein)
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Earlier today, as the manhunt for the second of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects prompted a citywide lockdown, Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, suggests the bombings should prompt a new look at immigration policy.

“Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system," said Grassley. "While we don’t yet know the immigration status of the people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system.”

Following Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's speech about infrastructure at the Waldorf Astoria in Midtown, I asked her about Grassley's remarks.

"Well, I strongly disagree," she said.

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Why?

"Immigration reform is not only good for our economy, it's good for our national security," she said.

Does she think the Boston Marathon issue will be on the table in talks about immigration reform?

"I don't."

Gillibrand was basically echoing the sentiments of the senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, who helped forge the compromise introduced in the Senate this week, and who earlier today said, "We’re a safer country when law enforcement knows who is here—has their fingerprints, photos, et cetera—has conducted background checks and no longer needs to look at needles in haystacks."

Grace Rauh, of NY1, asked Gillibrand if she had any thoughts about the other major event of the week, the collapse of a bill in the Senate that would enhance the country's loophole-ridden background check system.

Though the bill won a majority of votes, it didn't win the 60 needed to overcome the threat of a Republican filibuster.

"It's one of the most depressing, disappointing moments of my Senate career," she said. "Washington is obviously broken. These were commonsense, bipartisan measures that began to address this scourge of gun violence in our communities. And to not be able to come together on a bipartisan basis to pass these commonsense reforms to me is simply tragic and we must do more.

"And so my goal is to continue to work with senators on a bipartisan basis, particularly on my gun trafficking and straw purchasing bill. I think that is something that was quite close to passing. We just need two more senators. I think I have those senators. So I'm gonna work with them to get a bipartisan agreement. So, if and when we bring the gun debate back up, we will be ready to at least pass that component, which I believe is very important."

Does she think the gun control debacle might prompt a renewed interest in filibuster reform?

"I hope so."