Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden has penned a scathing op-ed attacking President Donald Trump’s “morally bankrupt” border policies, but he has spent much of his career enabling the ‘deportation state’ he now decries.
The former vice president took to the pages of the Miami Herald on Monday to lay out his approach to immigration, positioning himself as the antidote to a toxic president who “is only interested in using his policies to assault the dignity of the Hispanic community and scare voters to turn out on Election Day.”
Ever eager to wield his credentials as vice president under the Barack Obama administration, Biden boasts that he was involved in crafting the prior government’s policies toward Latin America, but Obama’s legacy on immigration reflects dismally on a candidate running on a pro-migrant platform.
Despite Trump’s reputation as a superhawk on the border, his presidency has seen fewer deportations per year than his predecessor, with around 250,000 in 2017 and 2018, and just over 280,000 so far this year.
Critics point out that the separation of migrant children from their families at the border has become more common since Trump took office, but that policy, too, is a carryover from the Obama years. A photo of caged migrant children went viral last year and prompted fierce criticism of President Trump’s inhumane border policies – yet the photo dates to 2014, smack in the middle of Obama’s second term.
Some of the very cages Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently compared to “concentration camps” were, indeed, constructed under President Obama’s purview. The holding facility in McAllen, Texas, the largest in the country and a creation of the Obama administration, has become emblematic of the problems plaguing migrant detention centers. With ill-equipped health facilities and overcrowded cells, the McAllen center was forced to temporarily close its doors earlier this year amid a deadly viral outbreak.
On ‘the Wall’, Biden will also struggle to set himself apart from the president. While the former VP condemns President Trump’s wall proposal as “divorced from reality,” Biden was a vocal supporter of the Secure Fence Act, a project that spent $1 billion building a 700-mile barrier along the border with Mexico.
If Biden wants to position himself as the open borders, pro-migrant candidate in the 2020 race, he’ll have to do a better job of hiding his record.