Joe Biden distanced himself from immigration policy during Barack Obama’s presidency on Thursday night, responding to a question about record deportation and a failure to pass immigration reform by saying he would do things differently.
Asked directly why voters should trust him with immigration after eight years under Obama, Biden answered bluntly: “Because we made a mistake. It took too long to get it right. I’ll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States.”
Obama’s immigration policies were criticized during his two terms in office, leading some immigration advocates to express concerns about how a Biden administration would handle the issue. And Biden’s poll numbers with Latino voters have been lower than past Democratic nominees.
Biden has tried to defend his former administration’s handling of immigration — even though the policy earned Obama the mocking moniker “deporter in chief” — making Thursday comments at the debate notable.
“And the fact is, I’ve made it very clear within 100 days I’m going to send to the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people. And all of those so-called dreamers, those DACA kids, they’re going to be immediately certified again to be able to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship,” Biden said. “The idea that they are being sent home by this guy and they want to do that is they’ve gone to a country they’ve never seen before.”
This is how the question played out: