Senior Republican senator connects Boston Marathon bombing to immigration debate

Senator Charles Grassley is the most senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewing the proposed immigration reforms.

The Boston Marathon bombing has been drawn into the debate about immigration reform after reports the two men suspected of carrying out Monday’s deadly attack were born in the former Soviet Union.

More from GlobalPost: Authorities kill suspect, pursue 2nd as Boston area locked down (LIVE BLOG)

On the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to review the bipartisan reform bill, Republican Senator Charles Grassley warned the attack should be taken into account when considering the proposed legislation.

“Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system,” Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, told the hearing.

“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. How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?”

Democrat Senator Charles Schumer, who has played a key role in drafting the legislation, said the committee shouldn’t “jump to conclusions” or “conflate” the two issues.

“In general, we’re a safer country when law enforcement knows who is here, has their fingerprints, photos, etc. …and no longer needs to look at needles through haystacks,” Schumer said.

More from GlobalPost: Bipartisan US immigration bill released by Senate

After meeting President Barack Obama on Friday Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said he "doesn't see any connection" between the events in Boston and the need to change US immigration laws.

"Some of our bill is exit and entry required documentation ... [that] would make it harder for people to enter and leave the country," McCain said. "Better tracking of who's in our country and who's not [that would] enhance our ability to keep our country secure."