What brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly did to the people of Boston, the victims at the marathon, and everyone in this country is bad enough -- but what's been sticking in my craw is how good this country was to them. They came here as children after their family was granted political asylum. Dzhokhar had received a $2,500 scholarship for high school seniors. Both had excelled in sports and Dzhokhar, at least, had plenty of friends. Tamerlan had a pretty, educated wife who worked long hours to support him and their child, Zahara. All in all, not a bad life for anyone, let alone first generation immigrants. But there's more. More that this country gave to them. Reportedly, Tamerlan, as well as his parents, were welfare recipients before the bombings.
State officials confirmed to the Boston Herald that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his wife, Katherine Russell, and their daughter were receiving welfare benefits that ended in 2012. It's unclear when the benefits started, but they ended when Russell, who began working as a home health aid, started earning too much to qualify.
Both of the brothers' parents, Anzor and Zubeidat, who now live in Russia, also apparently received benefits at some point.
The suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsnari, famously called the brothers "losers" who couldn't "settle themselves" in America. Yet it seemed they had every opportunity to. Dzhokhar was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Tamerlan was once a promising boxer, and he had a hard-working wife while he was a stay-at-home dad who was apparently close to her successful family.
How any of this is a recipe for extreme hatred of our country is beyond me. They had a very good chance at a good life. While Tamerlan was solidifying his hate for America -- the taxpayers were picking up the tab.
At any rate, these are the first terrorists I've heard about who were welfare recipients, so I hope to god that Congress doesn't use this as an excuse to cut welfare benefits, as it is already asking questions about immigration. I grew up with welfare benefits -- and it's because of that that I was able to eat, have clothes, go to school, and eventually become an educated, productive, tax-paying citizen. Welfare recipients get a bad rap, but what is the alternative here? Let people starve on the street? Have you been to a country that allows this? There are plenty of them. If not, go visit. See if you want to stay there.
An unfortunate fallout from Tamerlan and Dzhokhar's hate and destruction is that it will reflect on those who are nothing like them but have similarities. People who are from Russia. People from Chechnya. Immigrants. Asylum seekers. Welfare recipients.
Let's not forget that these two were in a league of their own.
Does this make you think differently of immigrants or welfare recipients?
Image via FBI