Senator Chuck Grassley. (file photo)

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is asking officials in the Department of Homeland Security to explain how the man accused of murdering Mollie Tibbetts got from Mexico to Iowa and was able to live here illegally for up to seven years.

“We must prevent murders like this from occurring again,” Grassley said Wednesday during a conference call with Iowa reporters. “At a minimum, we must increase law enforcement presence at the border.”

Cristhian Rivera worked at a dairy farm near Brooklyn. Dane Lang of Yarrabee Farms said today Rivera applied for work four years ago under a different name. Lang, speaking at a news conference this afternoon, said his farming operation learned today it had not been using the federal E-Verify system, but rather a cross-check through Social Security to check the identity of prospective employees. Senator Grassley said it’s time for congress to eliminate the potential for fraud and abuse in the E-Verify system.

“E-Verify ought to be mandatory instead of voluntary,” Grassley said, “but when you want to bring up an E-Verify mandatory policy the first stonewall you run into is the Chamber of Commerce and a lot of business groups don’t want to make it mandatory.”

Grassley told reporters migrant labor is desperately needed on ever-growing Iowa dairy farms, large-scale hog operations, meat processing facilities and in the state’s egg industry.

“If we did have these bills I’m talking about so people could have the papers to come to our country legally, go home when they want to (and) come back, that would basically solve our problem, right?” Grassley asked.

But prospects for having the Senate pass any change in immigration policy are dim, according to Grassley.

“If I could get a bill on the floor…without people on the right wanting to round up 11 million people and ship ’em out of the country…Now, I’m being a little facetious when I say that, but there is that feeling on the right,” Grassley said. “And then there’s a feeling on the left that we ought to, you know, legalize everybody yesterday.”

During a speech on the senate floor today, Grassley said congress “has been dancing around the issue of securing our border and strengthening nterior enforcement for far too long” and it’s time to fix the problem.