Alex Witt   |  April 21, 2013

Potential implications of Boston bombing on immigration reform

Former Republican Texas Senator and CNBC Contributor Kay Bailey Hutchison talks with MSNBC’s Alex Witt. Hutchison offers her opinion about the Boston Marathon bombing and the Tsarnaev brothers. She also talks about the potential implications of the tragedy in Boston on immigration reform in Congress.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> boston, americans did not seem too concerned about terrorism. you might think that after a gallup poll earlier this month in which it asked people what they thought was the most important problem facing this country today. economy, unemployment, and dissatisfaction with government were the most pressing issues. some other of the 16 problems people mentioned, 3% said look of money, 2% saying lack of respect for each other. of the 1,000 people asked, not a single mention of terrorism. still on terrorism, the fbi has reportedly reopened its files on a trip one of the suspected bombers made to dagestan. but some people are saying they should have had him under surveillance since he returned. joining me now, former republican texas senator and cnbc contributor kay bailey hutchison . and welcome to you. i'm glad to have you here to talk about this. because i know you are aware of the fbi facing some criticism for its investigation into tamerlan tsarnaev. is it too much to expect the fbi to follow up on these individual cases, particularly those that they've looked at and deemed not to have potential terrorism relevance?

>> well, i think that it's very hard to criticize the fbi right now because i think they have led an incredible investigation in boston. and really, i was surprised that they could catch these people as early as they did. i just have to hand it to them. obviously we don't know how many of the kinds of reports that we're now told were given on these two brothers, especially the one who's dead. we don't know thousand fbi is putting that into a grid. so i can't say anything critical about them right now, because i think that it's a huge relief that so far these two are gone. but if they are connected to other terrorist organization , and if they're helping to foment that, then i think we need to be very vigilant.

>> all right. if he had been flagged by federal authorities, what kind of effect would that have had on his permanent residency ? he's also coming in out of a region like dagestan after being interviewed by the fbi . is that enough to trigger an independent investigation by immigration officials?

>> well, alex, i think you're raising a very good point, and since immigration reform is now front and center for our congress and the president to handle, i think we need to be looking at the criteria for people that we allow to become permanent residents and legal immigrants in this country. and i think background is very important, and so i think that is a point that fortunately we are in the midst of having the opportunity to address.

>> what about what's coming down from some of your former colleagues in congress who are saying that they want their surviving brother dzhokhar to be designated an enemy combatant and tried in military court . what are your thoughts on that? do you agree?

>> i don't hear them saying they want him to be tried in military court , but i do hear them saying that he should be treated as an enemy combatant , and i think that -- i agree with them in that if he can be tied under the law that we have to terrorist or subversive organizations that would mean to do harm to americans and they would qualify, i think that they should be tried as enemy combatants . i think they can still be tried in our courts, but i think they are treated differently and i think right now, we need to find out what he will tell us about other plots, other organizations that might be planning or possibly want to do harm to innocent americans as we saw at the boston marathon .

>> so do you then not believe that these two were acting alone? do you think they may have been in concert with organizations, other groups to some degree?

>> oh, i think they were clearly in contact with groups because of what they have said on their social media . and we don't know, and i'm not saying that there is an absolute connection because we don't know the information, but i certainly think that we should be leaning on the side of prosecuting these people as enemy combatants that have killed innocent people with no causal connection to them. i think we should be leaning on that side rather than what i think is appearing to happen is that the prosecutors are kind of saying no, we're going the route of giving him his miranda rights . i think that is not a good thing to be saying right now, or indicating right now. we need to know what this young man knows that could help us protect american lives right now.

>> do you believe that this case will have any bearing on the progress that we seem to be making in washington on immigration reform ?

>> i don't think that it will have an implication for the processes for immigration reform and having the security for the people who come in to our country, and then treating those, for instance, young children who come in that would have been dream act or achieve act recipients. no. but what kind of people we do allow to have permanent residency , i think we have gotten the warning flag, and i think that that certainly can be added to an overall immigration reform , that we want the people who come in here not to be carrying the baggage of wanting to harm innocent americans because of some skewed position on what we are and who we are and the freedom that we love.

>> kay bailey hutchison , thank you so much for your time.

>> thank you.