Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his immigration plan, in it, his campaign acknowledges that the Obama administration’s mass deportations caused families pain. As expected Biden’s proposal is a moderate approach. The Vice President plans on rolling back many of the Trump administration’s policies if elected.
He joins progressives like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and HUD Secretary Julian Castro in ending the use of for-profit detention centers. However, unlike the leftist trio, he does not want to decriminalize illegal border crossings. Biden rolled out his new plan while visiting Nevada on the campaign trail.
Biden vaguely acknowledges “pain” he might have caused immigrants.
Nicknamed by advocates the “Deporter in Chief” Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office.
“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s plan reads.
While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.
As Vox notes, this year Biden has attempted to evade numerous questions challenging the Obama administration’s record-high mass deportations.
In July, advocates made it clear they wanted Biden to answer for the past. A group of protestors with Movimiento Cosecha brought family members of those deported by the Obama administration to Biden’s Philadelphia campaign headquarters.
“Biden needs to be accountable,” said Joe Enriquez Henry, vice president of the Midwestern region of League of United Latin American Citizens told Politico in July. “Biden needs to make it clear, if he wants to be president, that he has compassion and understanding and he needs to ask for forgiveness.”
Some advocates are cautiously praising Biden for opening the door to talk about past grievances.
In November, when an immigrants’ rights activist asked Biden if he would support a moratorium on deportations, Biden told them to “vote for Trump,” after explaining he would continue deporting migrants who committed serious crimes or felons. Biden’s most senior Latina staff member recently quit in protest of his rhetoric about immigrants.
“I stand with Barack Obama all eight years, good, bad and indifferent,” Biden said during a September debate when asked about the deportations.
Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.
“By acknowledging plainly the real pain that American families around the country feel today, Biden’s plan signals an openness to discussing the evolution of the Obama-Biden approach to immigration enforcement over the course of their eight years in office and how the lessons learned from that process would shape a Biden administration in its first 100 days,” the Center for American Progress’s Tom Jawetz told Vox. “That is a conversation that should continue over time.”
Biden wants to multiply the annual cap on refugees.
“It’s all about families. It’s all about families to me,” Biden said at a Las Vegas union hall, speaking to a room of many immigrants and casino workers.
The Vice President will increase the annual refugee limit from 18,000 to 125,000 in a clear rebuke to the Trump administration. Like the other candidates, Biden will end family separation and the travel limits or “Muslim ban” on citizens from countries affected by the policy. He wants immediate action taken to protect DACA recipients from deportations.
Biden will also allocate $4 billion to stabilize Central American economies and governments to ease the conditions that create mass migration in the first place.
“We should be engaging and offering our help to organize this hemisphere right now,” Biden said. “I’m going to spend, literally, a billion dollars a year to build up those countries so there’s no reason to leave in the beginning.”
Biden has pledged to end for-profit detention centers, wants to make work visas more practical for seasonal workers, and he wants to end the public charge rule that requires migrants to show proof they can afford health care.
“While Trump is responsible for the current immigration crisis, we can’t ignore that Democrats have a choice to embrace the Obama legacy or choose to address the immigration issue in a humane way,” said Carlos Rojas, an organizer who protested Biden said in July.