Grassley to visit U.S.-Mexico border as Biden faces heat for policies

The Biden administration's budget request includes increases to help clear immigration backlogs. (Photo by Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley plans to visit federal border camps Thursday and Friday to check conditions that continue to be a source of  controversy for the Biden administration. 

Grassley, R-Iowa, said he will visit the U.S.-Mexico border late Thursday and Friday to see conditions at government camps that are housing many children, some of whom arrived without parents. “Later this week, I will see for myself the extent of the crisis caused by this administration’s policy,” Grassley told Iowa reporters in a phone call Wednesday.

Grassley told Iowa reporters he plans to visit an unspecified port of entry and a processing facility, and will talk with Border Patrol officers. 

The number of illegal border crossings had slowly dropped under the Trump administration, Grassley said. President Donald Trump had campaigned on tightening border control, after President Barack Obama increased Border Patrol officers.

“President Biden, on the other hand, has encouraged the surge that we are seeing right now,” Grassley said. He added that he thinks Biden considered his changes through executive orders “the humanitarian thing to do.” 

Trump was widely criticized for separating children from their parents at the border and for the jail-like conditions at border camps. 

Biden has also faced questions, and has so far refused to let journalists visit the camps.

Grassley said journalists should have access. Biden’s refusal to let them in — aides say they are working on protocols — is one reason Grassley wanted to visit. “What’s wrong with transparency?” Grassley asked. “It leads to accountability.”

“We see that our customs and border protection personnel and facilities are overwhelmed,” Grassley said. 

Biden has suspended work on Trump’s border wall, prompting calls for a Government Accountability Office review of whether he has the legal power to do that. Biden has moved to reopen the border with Mexico after Trump’s crackdown.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, visited an El Paso area facilities with several other senators, and no reporters, on March 19. He told NPR after the visit: “Well, I mean, this is better than what we saw in 2019. These are not kids in, you know, so-called cages. They are not being separated from their family at the border. But these are facilities you wouldn’t want your child in for more than 10 minutes.”

Biden has vowed to restore the country’s asylum system.

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.