Immigration amendment prompted by Boston bombings

A new amendment in the immigration reform debate was passed unanimously on May 14. The new law allows more monitoring of foreign students, 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 agents across the country in light of the recent Boston bombings. The amendment was proposed by Sen. Charles Grassley , R-Iowa, and prompted by an alleged accomplice of the accused Boston bombers who was in the country on an expired student visa.

Although this amendment was accepted by all parties, other similar fixes were rejected, including an amendment proposed by Sen. Jeff Sessions , R-Ala., a leading opponent of the bill, that would have required visa holders to be verified using biometric screening – like fingerprints or eye scans – when exiting the country.

“Immigration reform must include the best exit system possible because persons who overstay their authorized stay are a big reason we now have so many illegal immigrants,” Alex Conant , a spokesman for Sen. Marco Rubio, said in a statement. “We wanted the Judiciary Committee to strengthen the legislation by adding biometrics to the new exit system, and we were disappointed by this morning’s vote.”

Senators noted that the update to the immigration bill would patch up any gaps that still remained for terrorist threats in the country.

“This will plug a loophole in terms of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told Fox News Latino. “It really strengthens the bill and shows that our bill … is going to make things better in terms of terrorism.”

Fox News Latino also reported that the committee agreed on another amendment proposed by Grassley , which focused on ending fraud in the student visa system. After two of the Sept. 11 terrorists entered the U.S. on student visas, Grassley said that the current program needed to be fixed. His second amendment would tighten requirements for schools hosting foreign students, and prohibit schools from offering visas if they’re not certified by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration.