Nation & World

Grassley claims child molester, MS-13 members in immigrant caravan, but provides no further details

A Mexican mother, center, and her children present themselves to BCP agents to ask for asylum in the U.S. on the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Oct. 24 2018. The BCP agents wouldn't let the family proceed any further. According to a report by the Hope Border Institute, CBP and Border Patrol have been actively dissuading and discouraging asylum seekers at ports of entry flouting obligations to provide aid to those seeking refuge from violence and persecution. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
A Mexican mother, center, and her children present themselves to BCP agents to ask for asylum in the U.S. on the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Oct. 24 2018. The BCP agents wouldn't let the family proceed any further. According to a report by the Hope Border Institute, CBP and Border Patrol have been actively dissuading and discouraging asylum seekers at ports of entry flouting obligations to provide aid to those seeking refuge from violence and persecution. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley claimed, without providing details, that his office has received information that among the thousands of Central American immigrants in a caravan headed for the United States are a child molester and members of the violent MS-13 gang.

Grassley wrote a letter Thursday requesting briefings in front of the Judiciary Committee from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on “the makeup of the caravan,” including any “national security threats” among its travelers.

“According to information obtained by my office,” Grassley added, without providing any links or footnotes to that information in the letter, “several members of the first caravan have significant criminal histories, including assault and sexual misconduct against a child, and membership in the MS-13 gang.”

Grassley’s office could not immediately be reached by phone or email for comment.

Eager to keep his conservative base fired up just days before midterm elections that will shape his domestic agenda, President Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed the caravan headed to the U.S.-Mexico border includes “very tough fighters” that had wounded Mexican security personnel as they crossed the border from Guatemala.

Reports on the ground from Mexico, where two migrant groups have been moving toward the border, mostly have described rock-throwing members of the caravans, or the throng using its numbers and mass to climb over fences or overwhelm outnumbered Mexican security forces.

But the U.S. commander in chief contended in a Wednesday morning tweet that the caravans, one with young people and the other composed mostly of women and children, “are made up of some very tough fighters and people.”

Trump has ordered thousands of U.S. military forces to the country’s southern border to support law enforcement entities in a show of force aimed at trying to persuade the caravans to turn around. Democrats say the move is meant to rally his conservative base ahead of the midterm elections next Tuesday.

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