Yesterday the Boston Herald posted an article giving some of the details about the government assistance the Tsarnaev family received between 2010 and 2012. The family received more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded assistance–ranging from housing to food stamps and cash.
The article reports:
The state has handed over more than 500 documents to the 11-member House Post Audit and Oversight Committee, which today met for the first time and plans to call in officials from the Department of Transitional Assistance to testify.
…Transitional assistance officials also told the Herald tonight that the agency was conducting its own investigation into whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s family ever notified the DTA about his extended trip to Russia, and has since expanded its probe to include a full history of the benefits received by the entire Tsarnaev family.
This is a very interesting situation. On one hand, if a family is asking political asylum, they may not have the means to get established immediately in the United States. On the other hand, is it practical to give immigrants handouts rather than encouraging them to work? This family had been willing to work–they were simply not successful enough to live in Massachusetts.
On Saturday, the Washington Post reported:
America, the golden door, had already welcomed two of his brothers when Anzor Tsarnaev crossed the ocean with his family in 2002. Anzor’s brother Ruslan, who had immigrated just a few years earlier, already had a law degree and was on his way to an executive job and a six-figure salary. And at first, Anzor, his wife, Zubeidat, and their two sons, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, seemed as energetic and brimming with initiative as their relatives had been. Anzor, a mechanic, fixed up cars. His wife turned a cut-rate apartment in affluent Cambridge into an improvised salon, offering facials at attractive prices
This sounds like a family you would welcome to the neighborhood. But the scene changed:
But over the past four years, even as members of their extended family found their piece of the American dream, the Cambridge Tsarnaevs’ experience in their new land curdled. Money grew scarce, and the family went on welfare. Zubeidat was accused of stealing from a department store. Anzor’s business, never prosperous, faded.
My point in posting this is simple. There was no way to know that the Tsarnaev family was going to become involved with terrorism. The money they were paid was appropriate for the situation they were in–as Americans they were as entitled to it as anyone else. (I know that is not a popular opinion, but it is true–welfare is not the culprit here).
The problem with the Tsarnaevs was the fact that our homeland security does not yet work as well as it should. The attack of September 11, 2001, could have been prevented if egos and bureaucratic rivalries had not been the order of the day (I recommend reading The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright). The bombing on April 15th could also have been prevented had their been more follow up on the tips from Russia and more cooperation between state, city, and government officials. If we are to survive as a nation, we have to learn to work together–and that includes rival bureaucracies. Otherwise, we will see more of what happened during the Boston Marathon. The Welfare Office is not to blame–they are in charge of welfare–our security people are in charge of security.