Immigration legislation stalled in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Grassley says in Des Moines

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, commented on immigration issues and legislative efforts at the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference.


Sarah Watson

Then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, talks to reporters at the Eight Circuit Judicial Conference in Des Moines on Friday, Aug. 17, 2018.

Elianna Novitch, Politics Reporter

DES MOINES — Legislation aimed at addressing immigration faces opposition in the U.S. Senate, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on Aug. 17.

At the 8th Circuit Judicial Conference at the Iowa Events Center, Grassley, R-Iowa, and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., discussed legislative attempts to address such issues as support for DACA recipients, immigration reform, and reuniting families separated at the U.S.-Mexican border.

Regarding DACA, Grassley said nearly everyone agrees that DACA recipients should be taken care of, but it has been difficult to pass any legislation relating to immigration in the Senate.

“When you have two bills up at the end of February, and one gets about 50 votes and the other 40 votes, you kind of come to the conclusion … that people would rather have an issue for this upcoming election than really getting something done,” Grassley said.

The House has also stalled on passing immigration legislation, but Goodlatte said with a little more effort, a bill could pass.

“This is an important issue, and I think that we’re very close in the House to being able to pass legislation,” he said. “What would happen to it in the Senate, I don’t know. We had two bills in the House; one came within 20 votes of passing the House.”

Grassley also noted the Judiciary Committee’s role in reuniting separated immigrant families. The Trump administration implemented a zero-tolerance policy when it came to immigration and later abandoned the separation policy after facing backlash from the public.

A federal judge in California ruled in June that separated families had to be reunited by July 26, a deadline that has since passed. Not all families have been reunited.

“What we’re doing is to correct the situation so it doesn’t happen again,” Grassley said. “I think that without a doubt, separating parents was a big, big mistake. It wasn’t thought through very well because you had one part of government saying, ‘We’re gonna enforce the law,’ and then that had consequences that the other agencies weren’t ready to take care of.”

Grassley said the repeal of the 1997 Flores Agreement, a ruling in Flores v. Reno that set standards for the detention of immigrant children, is one step to addressing the separation of families.

“The Flores decision has to be repealed,” he said. “Then, to make sure that if you do away with the Flores Agreement and if the kids are kept with their parents, that we have some decent housing for them.”

The Iowa senator said he and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have a bill that attempts to address the issues.

“… Separating kids from their parents is a wrong policy and shouldn’t have been done in the first place,” Grassley said.