UNDATED (CBS) -- Senators are holding their third hearing on immigration reform in Washington today. The legislation they're considering would create a path to citizenship for the 11 million people here illegally. The issue was already controversial, but now the recent Boston bombings are becoming part of the debate.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel she supports a new bi-partisan immigration reform bill. She believes the provision to identify 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally will help improve security. She says, "Knowing who they are is critical to public safety, indeed as we just saw in Boston information from our legal immigration system often supports response in investigation."
The two brothers accused in the Boston bombings were both legal immigrants to the U.S.
The bombings have prompted some lawmakers to question immigration reform. They argue the attacks show the need to address national security in the immigration system.
Senator Rand Paul says the current reform bill should be halted. Senator Chuck Grassley is calling for caution. He says, "It's important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system."
Senator Chuck Schumer, who helped design the current bill, took exception at Monday's hearing. He says, "I say that particularly to those who are pointing to what happened, the terrible tragedy in Boston as I would say an excuse for not doing a bill or delaying it many months or years."
Grassley shot back saying, "I never said that!" And Schumer responded, "I never said you did."
National security is just the latest controversy in immigration reform. Several lawmakers already oppose the bill because it gives illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
The bill would grant temporary legal status to illegal immigrants if they pay a 500 dollar fee and back taxes, pass a background check, and have a job. They would then have to wait 10 years to be eligible for a green card and three more years to apply for citizenship.