Former Vice President Joe Biden and Univision journalist Jorge Ramos clashed over Obama-era immigration policies that have been compared to those instated in the Trump administration.
Ramos, who interviewed Biden for about 20 minutes, honed in a comment the former vice president made during a Houston, Texas, debate in September 2019 when the presidential candidate said that the Obama administration had never “locked people in cages.”
“You actually did,” Ramos told Biden in the interview, which had been live-streamed to the “Real American with Jorge Ramos” Facebook page Friday. Ramos showed Biden a photo of an 8-year-old boy from Honduras in a cell behind fencing in Texas in 2014.
“What happened was all the unaccompanied children were coming across the border,” Biden told Ramos. “We tried to get them out, we kept them safe, and get them out of the detention center… run by Homeland Security and get them into communities as quickly as we can.”
Ramos responded, telling the presidential candidate that some people would call the detention facilities used during the Obama administration as “cages.”
“You know you’re not telling the truth here about the comparison of the two things,” Biden, who told Ramos he would offer an immigration bill during his first week in office, said, adding that the children who were detained had come unaccompanied and that the Obama administration had worked to quickly get them out of detention facilities.
In the interview, Biden, who has touted his relationship with former President Barack Obama on the campaign trail, for the first time said their administration made a “big mistake” when they deported hundreds of thousands of people without criminal records and had taken too long to adequately address immigration.
“It was painful,” Biden said during the interview. “It took too long. But we began to get it right with the DACA program,” the program created by an Obama executive order in 2012 that allowed undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the country as children to remain in the US.
Biden also claimed that the Bush administration had deported more foreigners than the Obama White House, though he was unable to support that claim with federal data, the Associated Press noted.
The Obama administration deported the most foreigners in a single year under a continued Bush-era program.
While Trump has faced criticisms for his immigration policy, particularly his long-promised border wall that has been plagued with issues, from funding (President Trump requested $2 billion in his FY 2021 budget for wall construction) to physical limitations, and a policy that separated children from their parents at the border, Obama has not been free from criticism.
Controversial immigration policies from the Obama era have resurfaced, particularly as his second-in-command vyes for the White House. As The Wall Street Journal noted, the former president earned the nickname “deporter-in-chief,” as the Democrat president hit a record number of deportations during his administration.
In 2012, 409,849 people were deported under President Obama, an all-time record for the number of deportations in a single year. In 2018, President Trump deported some 256,085, for comparison, according to The Wall Street Journal report.
According to the report, the high number of deportations under Obama occurred – in part – due to the continuation of a Bush-era program known as “Secure Communities” during his first term in office. The number of deportations fell during the second term of the Obama-Biden administration, though they were still higher than any year under the current president.
At a debate in Detroit in July 2019, Biden confirmed he would “absolutely not” pursue a policy similar to the policy in place during the Obama administration, which was controversial as it used fingerprint data collected at local jails to find immigrants unlawfully in the US, the Wall Street Journal said.
In December, the Biden campaign rolled out its immigration policy proposal. Biden, if elected, would restore the Obama-era DACA protections, which Trump revoked in 2017. He also said he would enforce previous asylum practices, which have been largely disregarded by Trump. Biden would also attempt to work with Congress to explore a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants presently in the US.
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