NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a pipe bomb explosion in an underground walkway near the Port Authority Bus Terminal shows the need for “immigration reform.”

Sanders said Monday that Congress should work with the president, stressing the need to “protect our borders” and calling for a “merit-based” immigration system.

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Authorities say  27-year-old Akayed Ullah, inspired by the Islamic State group, set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body in the passageway on West 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues, which connects the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the Times Square subway station. Ullah is from Bangladesh. He arrived in the United States in February 2011 and had a visa. He came in with his parents and siblings and subsequently obtained a Green Card and became a permanent U.S. resident

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“We know that the president’s policy calls for an end to chain migration which is what this individual came to the United States through,” Sanders said. “If his policy had been in place then that attacker would not have been allowed to come into the country.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement calling for a merit-based immigration system.

“We have now seen two terrorist attacks in New York City in less than two months that were carried out by people who came here as the result of our failed immigration policies that do not serve the national interest—the diversity lottery and chain migration,” Sessions said. “The 20-year-old son of the sister of a U.S. citizen should not get priority to come to this country ahead of someone who is high-skilled, well educated, has learned English, and is likely to assimilate and flourish here.”

“It is a failure of logic and sound policy not to adopt a merit-based immigration system,” Sessions added. “That means welcoming the best and the brightest and turning away not only terrorists but gang members, fraudsters, drunk drivers, and child abusers.  Such a merit-based system would make us safer and welcome individuals who would be best able to assimilate and flourish in our country.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said President Donald Trump’s priorities are in the wrong place when it comes to security.

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“This is the most perverse priority that this president has,” said Booker.

Booker says Trump talks out of one side of his mouth about public safety, yet is focused on building a wall along America’s southern border which the senator says will do little to nothing to actually protect against attacks like the one near the Port Authority bus terminal.

Booker believes the billions of dollars it would take to build that wall should be going to strengthening local law enforcement.

“What’s going to make you safer in the long run is building up those first responders,” Booker said. “We have police departments up and down the state of New Jersey that are in desperate need of more resources.”

The senator wants Transportation Security Administration to put greater emphasis on rail safety, saying the TSA is not just the airline safety administration.

“We in America should be doing more to secure our subway systems and our rail systems,” Booker said.

Ullah and five other people were injured in Monday’s incident.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)