by Jason Hopkins
Former Vice President Joe Biden took a centrist position on a major immigration issue, coming out strongly against the decriminalization of illegal immigration.
“No, I don’t,” Biden said when asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo if crossing the U.S. border illegally should no longer be a criminal offense during an interview that aired Friday. “I think people should have to get in line, but if people are coming because they’re actually seeking asylum, they should have a chance to make their case.”
“I would be surging — as we did, and [former President] Barack [Obama] and I did — surging folks to the border to make those concrete decisions. Look, the other thing, Chris, why are they coming? The reason the vast majority of these people are coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is because they’re in trouble. Crime rates are high. Education is terrible,” he said about the immigration crisis.
Biden’s comments come as a bit of a reversal from the first Democratic presidential debates held in late June. When the debate moderator asked who onstage supported the decriminalization of illegal immigration into the U.S., Biden raised his hand halfway and gestured his forefinger up, appearing to want to add clarification. When asked directly about the issue, he did not specifically address the question.
“The first thing I would do is unite families,” Biden answered at the time. “I’d surge immediately billions of dollars worth of help to the region, immediately.”
Any alien found crossing the border illegally for the first time can be charged with a misdemeanor and land up to six months in prison. This punishment increases each time the same individual is found crossing illegally again. Most 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have expressed support in making such an action a civil offense instead of a criminal offense.
Decriminalizing illegal immigration has become a mainstream position among the 2020 Democratic contenders. On the second night of the debates, only two candidates — out of the 10 onstage — refrained from raising their hands when asked if they supported such a change.
Every candidate onstage voiced support for giving illegal aliens taxpayer-funded health care — a position Biden reiterated during his CNN interview.
“In an emergency, they should have health care. Everybody should. Anybody here in the country. How do you say, ‘You’re undocumented. I’m going to let you die, man,’? What are you going to do?” he said.
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