Joe Biden Says Illegal Immigrants Should Be ‘Sent Back’ During Democratic Debate

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
August 1, 2019Updated: August 1, 2019

Former vice president Joe Biden said that illegal immigrants should be “sent back” to their countries during the Democratic debate on July 31.

Biden, 77, was asked by a CNN moderator about the number of deportations that took place during the Obama administration.

“In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly 800,000 immigrants were deported, far more than during President Trump’s first two years. Would the higher deportation rates resume if you were president?” Don Lemon asked Biden.

The former vice president said no.

Epoch Times Photo
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) (L-R), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) , former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio during the Democratic Presidential Debate in Detroit, Michigan at the Fox Theatre on July 31, 2019. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“The fact is what the senator from New York talked about is seeking asylum. That woman, the women she spoke to are entitled to asylum. That is not crossing the border illegally. What we should do is flood the zone to make sure we have people to make those decisions quickly,” Biden said.

The former vice president and Delaware senator said that he helped pass a bill that allocated $750 million for the Northern Triangle countries to try to alleviate the problems there so fewer people would migrate to the United States.

“In addition to that, we’re in a circumstance where if in fact you say you can just cross the border, what do you say to all those people around the world who in fact want the same thing to come to the United States and make their case, that they don’t—that they have to wait in line,” Biden added.

“The fact of the matter is, you should be able to—if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It’s a crime.”

The position sets Biden apart from some of his opponents, who support decriminalizing border crossings. That would mean shifting crossing the border illegally from a criminal offense to a civil one.

Julian Castro, who served as Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017, is one of them. Asked by Lemon to respond to Biden, he said: “First of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t,” prompting a round of applause.

He then said he supports decriminalizing border crossings.

“First of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like only way that we’re going to guarantee that these kinds of family separations don’t happen in the future is that we need to repeal this law. There’s still going to be consequences if somebody crosses the border. It’s a civil action,” Castro said.

“Also, we have 654 miles of fencing. We have thousands of personnel at the border. We have planes; we have boats; we have helicopters; we have security cameras.”

Epoch Times Photo
Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, left, speaks as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), center, and former Vice President Joe Biden listen during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit on July 31, 2019. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Biden said in response that “his plan doesn’t make sense.”

“Here’s the deal. The fact of the matter is that, in fact, when people cross the border illegally, it is illegal to do it unless they’re seeking asylum. People should have to get in line.”

Biden then claimed that the family separations that took place under President Donald Trump didn’t happen during the Obama administration, which is not true.

“The only reason this particular part of the law is being abused is because of Donald Trump,” Biden said. “We should defeat Donald Trump and end this practice.”

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