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Editorial: Don’t let bombings slow immigration reform

FILE - In this March 7 2013 file phoSen. RPaul R-Ky. talks reporters Capitol Hill Washington. Paul said Wednesday thRepublicans

FILE - In this March 7, 2013 file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Paul said Wednesday that Republicans face long odds in connecting with black voters and are often cast as unsympathetic to the needs of blacks and minorities _ something he says the party needs to change. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

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Updated: May 25, 2013 6:28AM

One brother was 16 years old and the other just 8 when they came to America with their parents.

Yet Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) thinks there must be some way our nation could have pegged Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as future terrorists, slammed shut the doors of immigration, and spared us the agony of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Maybe customs agents should have used tarot cards.

This is nothing but a ploy by Paul and others to slow progress in Washington toward passage of a long-overdue bipartisan plan for immigration reform. They are stirring up the anti-immigrant Know Nothing crowd by suggesting, against all evidence, that the Tsarnaev brothers — or perhaps their parents — were imported terrorists.

On the contrary, this terrorist plot was stamped “Made in America.” If there was a government failure, it was not by the nation’s immigration system, but by two FBI counterterrorism agents who interviewed the older brother in 2011 and concluded he was no threat.

All indications are that Tamerlan, a Chechen national, became a follower of radical Islam years after he first came to the United States in 2003. It was not until 2008, according to his mother, that he “got involved in religion” — a fact his wife and others confirm. His mother herself, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, reportedly grew more religious and conspiracy-minded, too, but also only after living in this country for years.

President Barack Obama framed the real question last week when he asked, “Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?”

Tamerlan appears to have been a homegrown jihadist who heavily influenced his even more American little brother. No set of immigration laws can weed out every bad apple, certainly not when the apple is as green as an 8-year-old boy.

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