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Grassley demands hearings on immigration problem that doesn't exist

Sen. Chuck Grassley and other Republicans insist there’s a ‘crisis’ at the U.S.-Mexico border.

By Josh Israel - May 24, 2021
Chuck Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) complained on Monday that the Democratic majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee isn’t holding hearings on immigration.

“It’s been almost 8 wks since Sen Cornyn & I asked for a judic hrg abt the crisis at our southern border,” tweeted Grassley, the ranking Republican member. “I held 12 immigration hrgs in the 4yrs I was chairman during Obama & Trump administrations When will Democrats allow a hrg on immigration oversight?”

While a review of the Judiciary Committee’s website reveals that the Border Security and Immigration subcommittee held a hearing on May 12 that lasted over two hours on “The Essential Role of Immigrant Workers in America,” Grassley wants a hearing on the so-called crisis.

Grassley, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and other congressional Republicans have spent the past several months claiming there is a “border crisis” and that President Joe Biden’s policies are to blame.

Migration data and experts say that this is a myth and that increased border crossings this year are a combination of normal cycles and the waning COVID-19 pandemic.

“We analyzed monthly U.S. Customs and Border Protection data from 2012 through February and found no clear evidence that the overall increase in border crossings in 2021 can be attributed to Biden administration policies,” scholars at the University of California at San Diego wrote in a March analysis for the Washington Post. “Rather, the current increase fits a pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration combined with a backlog of demand because of 2020s coronavirus border closure.”

Grassley chaired the Judiciary Committee from 2015 to 2019, giving him control of the committee’s schedule. Now that Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, that power belongs to Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Durbin is under no obligation to hold hearings at Grassley’s and Cornyn’s demand, no matter when they made the request.

Grassley’s brag that he held 12 hearings during his tenure would mean an average of just three hearings on the topic per year.

Republicans clearly believed that a broader discussion of border security was germane to the hearing on immigrant workers on May 12. They invited Ronald Vitiello, a longtime U.S. Border Patrol official and Donald Trump’s former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to testify.

Vitiello used his appearance to warn of the “humanitarian and border security crises on our nation’s southwest border”: “Lack of consequences to those who cross illegally has and will continue to exacerbate this problem. It encourages more families to take a dangerous journey.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) used her time to ask Vitiello to comment on what she claimed were effective border security measures instituted by Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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