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On Immigration, the Contrast Could Not Be Clearer

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On kids separated from parents, Trump: “They are so well taken care of.”
Biden: “It violates every notion of who we are as a nation. It’s criminal.”

In response to the immigration questions at last night’s debate, Donald Trump revealed who he is and what his administration is about. And Joe Biden revealed who we are and what his administration will be about. The contrast could not be clearer. 

Donald Trump engaged in a toxic mix of lies, blame-shifting, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He showed no remorse for the intentional policy of ripping families apart, said the kids are “well taken care of,” and called those who show up for court hearings “low IQ.”

Joe Biden denounced Trump’s family separation policy as “criminal,” reiterated his commitment to deliver overdue citizenship for undocumented immigrants starting with Dreamers, and admitted that Obama’s deportation record was “a mistake.”  

Here’s a rundown of the key exchanges: 

  • Trump’s lies on family separation: blame the Obama administration, blame coyotes and cartels, claim separated children are “so well taken care of:” The Trump administration ripped kids from the arms of their parents in an effort to deter others from coming to seek safety. They did so knowing they lacked a tracking system to ensure the reunification of kids with their parents. Now at least 545 children remain separated from their parents. Questioned last night about the hundreds of children who now are without parents, President Trump falsely blamed coyotes and cartels (wrong: his administration took children from parents, not from smugglers); claimed Obama did the same thing (PolitiFact ruled this claim “False), and had the audacity to defend the indefensible by saying of separated kids, “They are so well taken care of.”
  • Trump’s lies and xenophobia on so-called “catch and release:” Trump’s argument for cruel policies is something he calls “catch and release” – a fishing term intended to dehumanize asylum-seekers and paint them as people who abuse the system. Wrong. According to multiple sources, including the Department of Justice, the majority of those seeking asylum do show up for court appointments. They do so because they want asylum, and not, as Trump sneered last night, because they have low IQs.
  • Biden stands up for immigrants and a welcoming America: Joe Biden eviscerated Trump’s lame defenses of family separation. He said it “violates every notion of who we are as a nation,” and called the practice “criminal.” He committed to making citizenship for undocumented immigrants a priority, an overwhelmingly popular position, and promised to give priority to Dreamers, citing the approximately 20,000 DACA recipients working as first responders. Finally, Biden admitted that the first-term Obama administration record on deportations was “a mistake.” 

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

Let’s not mince words. On the immigration section of last night’s debate, Biden kicked Trump’s ass. 

Biden took a stand for an optimistic, decent and welcoming America. Trump lied, blustered and demeaned ‘the non-white other.’ Biden spoke American. Trump spoke white nationalism. Biden said we’re better than this. Trump said you all are as evil as me. 

Four years ago, many credited Trump’s nativism and xenophobia for his upset victory. Four years later, many should credit Trump’s nativism and xenophobia for the defeat he is about to suffer. 

In 2020, Trump and Republicans are running on racism and xenophobia, and they are on the verge of a huge loss. Trump’s radicalism on immigration has forced Americans to choose, and we have. As a result, immigration as a wedge issue has lost its edge, and a multiracial majority is poised to turn the page. 

Joe Biden gets it. Joe Biden gets America. We look forward working with his administration to undo Trump’s cruelty, create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and build a fair and humane immigration system that reflects the best of who we are, not the worst.