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Univision anchor Jorge Ramos pressed former Vice President Joe Biden on the high rate of deportations under the Obama administration at Thursday’s Democratic debate, ultimately asking the presidential candidate how Latinos can trust him should he be elected in 2020.
“As a presidential candidate in 2008, you supported the border while saying, ‘Unlike most Democrats, I voted for 700 miles of fence.’ This is what you said,” Ramos, one of the debate’s four moderators, directed at Biden. “Then, you served as vice president in an administration that deported 3 million people — the most ever in U.S. history. Did you do anything to prevent those deportations?”
Ramos continued, claiming Biden has been asked this question before but “refused to answer.”
“So let me try once again. Are you prepared tonight to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations?” Ramos asked. “Why should Latinos trust you?”
Biden responded by arguing that it’s “outrageous” to compare Obama and President Trump.
“We didn’t lock people up in cages, we didn’t separate families, we didn’t do all of those things,” Biden said, also mentioning that Obama implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young undocumented immigrations from deportation.
The former VP added that he is “proud” to have served with Obama, but if elected president, he’d do “several more things, because things have changed.”
“I would in fact make sure that there is, that we immediately surge to the border — all those people are seeking asylum. They deserve to be heard,” Biden said. “That’s who we are. We’re a nation that says, ‘If you want to flee and you’re fleeing oppression, you should come.’ “
Once Biden mentioned Trump’s move to reject domestic violence asylum speakers, leading him to call for action on the separate, unrelated Violence Against Women Act, Ramos reiterated his initial question, “Did you make a mistake with those deportations?”
“The president did the best thing that was able to be done at the time,” Biden replied, prompting Ramos to respond, “How about you?
“I’m the vice president of the United States,” Biden said.
Ramos moved on to former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who criticized Biden’s response.
“I agree that Barack Obama was very different from Donald Trump,” Castro said. “Donald Trump has a dark heart when it comes to immigrants. He built his whole political career so far on scapegoating and fear-mongering and otherizing migrants, and that’s very different from Barack Obama.”
He continued, “But my problem with Vice President Biden, and Cory pointed this out last time, is every time something good about Barack Obama comes up, he says, ‘Oh, I was there, I was there, I was there, that’s me too,’ and then every time somebody questions part of the administration that we were both part of, he says, ‘Well, that was the president.’ I mean, he wants to take credit for Obama’s work, but not have to answer to any questions.”
Biden again pledged his support for Obama, through the “good, bad and indifferent.”
The third Democratic debate is still underway. Also on the stage are Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke; and businessman Andrew Yang.
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