Sen. Grassley believes Biden administration is failing concerning immigration


Sen. Chuck Grassley speaks during the Roast and Ride fundraiser June 3, 2017, in Boone, Iowa.

Katherine Kealey

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley blamed the Biden administration for what the Iowa Republicans termed a “crisis” Wednesday with thousands of migrants at the southern border.

Kelly Shaw, an Iowa State political science associate teaching professor, said it is fair to say the current state of the border is a crisis for security as well as human rights. 

“It really raises the question of how a democracy, which expresses an interest in individual rights, addresses that issue,” Shaw said. “So it does raise it to a crisis level when you have that many people suffering.” 

In March, federal border agents reported the largest number of unaccompanied children in a single month ever at the U.S. border with Mexico, totaling nearly 19,000.

Shaw said many of the people coming to the border are seeking better opportunities.

In response, the Biden administration requested agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and NASA to consider four months of paid leave for their federal employees to help attend to government-run shelters bursting at the seams with new arrivals.

Grassley, speaking with the Carroll Times Herald and other media on a call, said there should be greater research into how the border crisis impacts the agencies’ productivity.

“When Congress authorizes and appropriates money for these agencies, we expect them to fulfill their obligations under the law,” he said. “Turning scientists and regulators into babysitters is not what we have in mind when we appropriate money.”

Grassley said none of this would be an issue if border policies from the Trump administration had remained in place. Grassley visited the border during the final weeks of the Donald Trump presidency.

Shaw said the optics are different for each administration.

“It is a policy dance, and both the Trump administration and Biden administration have faced that issue, they have faced it in a different way, however,” Shaw said. 

While Trump took an aggressive approach to border security, such as building a border wall and restricting immigration, Biden has provided a “road map to citizenship” and done away with many of the Trump administrations restrictions.

Grassley said the border patrol aiding the transition team predicted a border crisis if the former president’s policies were overturned.

“We have a crisis because this administration didn’t follow the advice of the experts,” Grassley said.

Shaw said this problem isn’t anything new. Migrants have sought opportunity and safety in America throughout every president’s administration — it really depends on the politics at hand. 

“It does raise a number of questions, not only about the United States and how we address those who are less fortunate than us but really what we can do to make their lives better, on the one hand, and not allow people into the country uncontrollably, on the other,” Shaw said. “That is really the policy-walk that any administration has to take.”

On the conference call with reporters, Grassley also commented on recent bipartisan efforts to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol.

Grassley said for him to support the House proposal to review the Jan. 6 Capitol melee, he would want other protests that have turned violent across the nation investigated.

“We have had rioting in this country,” Grassley said. “Some of it has been called peaceful protest, over a long period of time, and sometimes even extremist groups have been involved in some of that.” 

Grassley referenced protests in Portland, Oregon, as an example. He previously has been involved in oversight letters to look into the Capitol violence. Grassley questioned whether or not the review is necessary because there are committees of Congress investigating the matter.

Shaw said the review could serve as a distraction for Congress, but it is important the rule of law is followed and those responsible for the insurrection are addressed by the law.

“We always air on the side of investigation, and we might get paralysis through investigation, but at the same time, ultimately, they will reach a conclusion and how to move forward so justice is served,” Shaw said.

Grassley said he’s concerned the review would only consume Congress members’ time and possibly spill into 2022, an election year. What’s more, the senator said, law enforcement is doing a “good job” of arresting and prosecuting people who stormed the Capitol while Congress was in session.

“It might be part of a scheme to keep the issue of Trump before the Congress of the United States to distract from whether or not the Democratic Congress is getting their job done or the crises that this administration is not facing in a very good way,” Grassley said.