History Would Repeat Itself If Boston Derailed Immigration Reform

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 Minutes before 3 p.m. yesterday, I spoke with sources in D.C. who told me excitedly that the Senate immigration reform bill would be released as planned midday today. An hour later, as video of the deadly Boston Marathon bombing coursed on cable television and reports emerged that one of the dead was an 8 year old child, those same sources began to wonder if the bill would be derailed.

“This could knock it all down,” said one Beltway advocate.

Senate aides tell USA Today that the bill will still be filed today, and the so-called Gang of Eight Senators who negotiated its details will delay their press conference describing it until Wednesday.

But the anxieties some immigration reform advocates felt following the Boston explosions is understandable. It would not be the first time that a massive push for reform crumbled under the weight of an act of violence. The attacks on September 11, 2001, came just days after President George W. Bush affirmed his commitment to a grand bargain on immigration. In the attack’s aftermath, in a country filled with fears about sovereignty and outsiders, hope faded for an opening of national lines.

After yesterday’s explosions, all three major cable news networks showed little restraint in stirring viewers’ passions about the violence. Several anchors and guests made repeated connections where none yet exist. On CNN, commentator David Gergen dropped the word “jihadist” little more than an hour after the attack. Former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman simultaneously fed and tamed the flames, saying, “A lot the victims, if it turns out to be anything related to Al Qaeda, a lot of the victims of these attacks are Muslims.” Read more here.