WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta said Thursday the country’s immigration system has “a massive hole” in it, adding that the Boston Marathon bombing is a tragic example of just how bad the situation is.
Barletta, R-Hazleton, is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and he attended Thursday’s hearing in Washington held just three weeks after the bombings and manhunt that left four people dead and hundreds injured.
“There are a number of problems with our visa system,” said Barletta, 57. “These attacks were successful because of errors that were made within our homeland security system.”
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told Congress that FBI agents did not tell Boston police they had received warnings from Russia’s government in 2011 about suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and had performed “a cursory investigation.”
Barletta said one of his major concerns is the people who come to the U.S. legally with a visa and then don’t leave. “As you may know, 40 percent of the illegal immigrants in this country are visa overstays,” he said.
He said Thursday’s hearing was just the committee’s “first look” into the bombings.
Barletta questioned why DHS didn’t notify the FBI when its system “pinged” Tamerlan Tzarnaev, who had left the United States for Russia on his way to Dagestan. “He still was able to re-enter the U.S.,” Barletta said. “There are serious problems with our visa system and it’s putting our country’s safety at risk. It happened in Boston and I’m concerned it will happen in other cities.”
Barletta said as it became clear that the bombing was an act of terrorism and the FBI took the lead in finding those responsible, he asked if coordination could have been improved with state and local efforts. He said all agencies should have communicated the developments in the case.