The Democratic White House hopeful said that during his tenure under President Barack Obama, he led an effort to “address the root causes that push people to flee, reducing inequality, and expanding economic opportunity in Central America so that people feel safe to stay in their home countries.”
Biden’s op-ed, which also ran in the Miami Herald’s Spanish-language publication, El Nuevo Herald, came after Trump abruptly suspended a threat to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants starting Sunday, demanding that Democrats and Republicans forge a plan to stanch the record flows of asylum-seeking families.
It was published two days before the kickoff in Miami of the Democratic presidential debates, at which the candidates are certain to seek to sharply contrast their policy prescriptions on immigration with those of Trump.
In his op-ed, Biden referenced Trump’s threat of deportation, noting that it came shortly after the State Department confirmed it was cutting off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the home countries of most migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
“It’s clear Donald Trump is only interested in using his policies to assault the dignity of the Latinx community and scare voters to turn out on Election Day, not addressing the real challenges facing our hemisphere,” Biden said.
Biden acknowledged that the asylum system needs improvements, but he wrote that the answer is to “streamline and strengthen it so that it benefits legitimate claims of those fleeing persecution, while reducing potential for abuse.”
In the op-ed, Biden also called on Congress to recognize “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children — as U.S. citizens.
The Obama administration granted work permits to many of them through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but Trump ended the program in late 2017. Its fate rests with the Supreme Court, which may take up the issue in the coming months.
Biden also decried Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on Mexico in a bid to stem the flow of migrants from the country, as well as the president’s efforts to “build the wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border. Biden called that “a slogan divorced from reality.”
“It won’t stop the flow of illegal narcotics or human trafficking, both of which come primarily through legal ports of entry. Nor will it stop asylum seekers fleeing the most desperate conditions imaginable, and who have the right to have their cases heard. Nor will it stem the numbers of undocumented, most of whom overstay legal visas.”