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Boston Bombing Fallout: Immigration Reform?

By Dara Sharif

Might the deadly twin blasts at the Boston Marathon also sign the death warrant for needed immigration reform in the nation?

On Monday, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., urged lawmakers, in the wake of the bombings, not to “exploit” fears of a foreign threat to stop immigration reform from taking place.

“Last week, opponents began to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing,” Leahy said. “I urge restraint in that regard. … Let no one be so cruel as to use these heinous acts of two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people.”

As debate on a bipartisan bill to overhaul immigration laws got underway Friday, some lawmakers said news that the bombing suspects were Chechen immigrants should be taken into consideration.

“This is not something to be rushed,” Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Friday. “We have to get this right. … And, given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system.”

Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, became a U.S. citizen in September. The second suspected bomber, Tsarnaev’s 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a gunfight with police as law enforcement closed in on the pair late last week. Both moved to the U.S. last decade after their family, ethnic Chechens, received asylum in 2002 under U.S. immigration law.

In a nation of immigrants, delays to desperately needed immigration reform could prove costly not only for families and communities—but also be bad for business. Companies such as Toyota Financial Services have used diversity of thought and background for innovative problem-solving.

As both workplaces and market outreach become increasingly global, companies are grappling with issues of cultural competence for immigrants and expats, and a greater understanding of how distinct local cultures impact workplace actions.

DiversityInc’s recent global research report indicates that many companies have difficulty acclimating immigrants to local cultural customs and values. Both in the United States and globally, use of resource groups to create cultural competence and successfully on-board new employees is critical.  In a recent web seminar, Dell and MasterCard shared best practices in establishing and using global resource groups.

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