'We kept them safe': Biden defends Obama administration's move to 'cage' migrant children
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden urgently needs big wins in the next two states that go to the polls in February to make up for his disappointing losses in Iowa and New Hampshire and remain relevant in the race for the White House. The former vice-president, despite starting of as one of the top candidates in the fray, finished a poor fourth in Iowa and fifth in NH with just six delegates. Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is leading the race with 22 delegates while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has 21.
But even as Biden banks on the next set of battles, especially in South Carolina -- a state with a high black population that the former claims supports him overwhelmingly, his controversial public remarks could still pose a major challenge to his campaign’s recovery.
Mexican-born journalist Jorge Ramos grills Biden on Obama's immigration policy
The 77-year-old Biden met Univision journalist Jorge Ramos last Friday, February 14, for an interview in which the latter quizzed the former No.2 over the Barack Obama administration’s immigration policy. Ramos grilled Biden over his claim made last September that the former administration never kept migrant children in ‘cages’. Biden defended the move saying it was done to keep the children ‘safe’.
In September, Biden said, in an attempt to show a qualitative difference between the administrations of Obama and incumbent Donald Trump: “What Latinos should look at is comparing [Obama] to the president we have is outrageous. We didn't lock people in cages. We didn't separate families. We didn't do all of those things.”
In the interview which was streamed live on the ‘Real America with Jorge Ramos’ Facebook page , the Mexican-born journalist told Biden: “You actually did” while showing him the picture of an eight-year-old boy inside a facility in Texas’ McAllen in 2014.
The facility has been built to process the huge rise in unaccompanied minors that cross the border illegally following the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) initiative and uses chain-link fences to separate migrants on the basis of age and sex. Such facilities were put in place by the Obama administration and are still used by the Trump administration. However, left-wing lawmakers and pro-immigration voices only accused the current administration of caging children, especially after it took a strict policy of arresting adults who crossed the border illegally. The Trump administration later took a step back following massive backlash.
Biden defended the former Democratic administration saying it tried to safeguard the children who were crossing the border without any company.
“What happened was all the unaccompanied children were coming across the border. We tried to get them out, we kept them safe, and get them out of the detention center... run by Homeland Security and get them into communities as quickly as we can,” he said.
Ramos was not convinced though. He said: “Many people would say they were cages.”
Biden still defended himself, responding: “You know you're not telling the truth here about the comparison of the two things. Look how quickly we got them out and got them back to families, look at how … we sought the relatives here, we sought to get them into safe communities. We sought to get them out of the control of Homeland Security to get them safe.”
The former Delaware senator, however, did say during the interview that went on for 20 minutes to say that the Obama administration’s decision to deport thousands of people without criminal records was a “big mistake”. It was the first time that he did so. “We took far too long to get it right,” he said.
Last year, the Trump administration came up with statistical figures to suggest that it has deported fewer people than Obama. In its first three years, the Obama administration deported 1.18 million people but till November 2019 which was two months short of Trump’s three years in office, his administration deported little less than 800,000, as per the Washington Post.
With the caucuses in Nevada, a state with a big Hispanic population, another five days away, the Ramos interview will be considered more relevant than ever.