A day after the Boston Marathon bombings, the New York Post falsely reported that law enforcement suspected a Saudi national may have been responsible. Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa responded with predictable outrage. “If we can’t background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background-check the 11 million to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?” he told the National Review. King, a leading opponent of efforts to reform the nation’s immigration laws, was one of several conservatives—including Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and talk show host Laura Ingraham—who are straining to draw a line from the Boston attack to the immigration bill.
Now the question is whether the Gang of Eight senators who authored the bill, and particularly the Republicans in the group, can wrest back the narrative from these doubters. On CNN’s State of the Union show Sunday, South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham argued that the bombings strengthen the case for reform. It’s better to improve the immigration system than to keep it as is, he said, so authorities have a better idea of who is coming and who isn’t. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Arizona Senator John McCain made similar statements this weekend.