Grassley asks DHS, State Department to brief Judiciary Committee on caravan

Grassley asks DHS, State Department to brief Judiciary Committee on caravan
© Greg Nash

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (R-Iowa) said Thursday that he has asked the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to brief the committee on potential national security threats posed by a group of Central American migrants trekking north toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Information on these groups will help the Committee address the needs of vulnerable asylum-seekers who need humanitarian relief and those Homeland Security officials tasked with processing people at our border, while preventing the entry of caravan members who are national security threats,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump officials discussed ‘deterrent effect’ of prosecuting migrant parents: report Congress sends bill renewing anti-terrorism program to Trump House Republicans call for moving State of the Union to Senate chamber MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump cancels delegation's trip to Davos amid shutdown China 'not worried in the slightest' about concern over Canadian's death sentence The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress MORE.

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Grassley wrote that his office obtained information showing "several members" of the caravan have "significant criminal histories" and affiliation with the MS-13 gang. He also cited a reported clash between the caravan and Mexican authorities earlier this week.

Grassley asked the two departments to provide a briefing and updated details on the number of migrants traveling in the caravan who want asylum in the U.S. and how many migrants sought asylum in Mexico.

He also requested information on the country of origin, criminal history and age of all caravan members with whom the Mexican National Institute of Migration has made contact.

The group of roughly 4,000 migrants was still 900 miles away from the U.S. border as of Thursday afternoon, and members said Wednesday that they intended to stop and rest as they sorted out potential transportation to the border.

The group consists primarily of citizens from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and includes many women and children.

Trump has seized on the caravan in the final weeks of the midterm campaign, painting the group as one filled with "criminals" and unknown "thugs" and rattling off a growing list of potential policies and actions to block the group's progress.

He said he could send as many as 15,000 troops to the border, raised the desire to end birthright citizenship and is reportedly considering blocking Central Americans from claiming asylum.

The president is scheduled to make brief remarks on immigration on Thursday afternoon at the White House.