As the full identities and motives of the two foreign-born bombing suspects unfold, both sides of the immigration debate are seizing the Boston attack as an opportunity to revamp America's immigration system.
"The right will use this as red meat to derail immigration reform," said Michael Wildes, a former federal prosecutor and managing partner of the immigration law firm Wildes & Weinberg. "But we shouldn't allow any one incident to derail the challenges that we have to protect our homeland, and make sure we fix our broken system and redefine our economy through quality immigration policy," he said.
Meanwhile, supporters of a new bipartisan immigration bill hope the bombings don't thwart America's long-awaited need for reform. Advocates include tech sector employers, who are desperate to lure and retain highly-skilled international workers.
The bombing suspects — one killed and one captured — are brothers of Chechen origin, at least one a legal permanent resident of the United States, law enforcement officials told NBC News.
"It's very unfortunate when a person commits a crime of this magnitude. This is a horrible tragedy," said Debra Lattanzi Shutika, an immigration expert and associate professor at George Mason University. "Crimes are going to be committed, we understand that. But that doesn't mean we can't have an immigration debate and move forward," she said.
(Read more : Tsarnaev Social Posts Should Have Been Flagged: Expert)
Senator: Attack Should Factor in Debate
On Friday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, jumped into the fray, saying the Boston bombings should be a factor in the immigration discussion, NBC News reported.
Given the events of last week, "it's important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system," said Grassley, a ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "While we don't yet know the immigration status of the people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system," he said.
'Gang of Eight' Proposal
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of four Republicans and four Democrats, known as the "Gang of Eight," is moving ahead with a new immigration bill that was released last week. The bill was conceived as a pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Proposed reforms include visas for foreign-born entrepreneurs, who want launch start-ups; and merit-based visas to help keep highly talented employees in the U.S.
(Read More: Why Immigration Reform May Happen This Year)
There's also a proposed e-verify program, an electronic employment verification system. Employers would have to check the immigration status of potential new employees before offering them jobs.