Ahead of the first Democratic debates, Joe Biden is proposing US Congress grant immediate citizenship to more than 800,000 residents who were brought to the country illegally as children.
The former vice president and Democratic polling leader introduced some of his immigration priorities Monday in a newspaper op-ed that blisters President Donald Trump for an “assault on the dignity” of the Latino community through policies and rhetoric designed to “scare voters” in 2020.
“Trump repeatedly invokes racist invective to describe anyone south of the Rio Grande,” Biden writes, assailing him for “actions that subvert our American values and our ability to lead on the global stage.”
Biden, who launched his 2020 campaign in April, calls for streamlining the asylum system for migrants and spending more on electronic security at borders instead of building Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall.
He blasted Trump’s latest threats of mass deportation and his decision to cut aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, three Central American nations that are sources of the increasing wave of migrants to the US border.
Biden’s op-ed is published in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, where 20 Democratic candidates will take the debate stage Wednesday and Thursday.
It is part of a series of policy pronouncements of varying levels of detail as Biden tries to maintain his lead in national and early state polls of Democratic primary voters. Separately, he’s offered education and climate action proposals, and his campaign has said health care and criminal justice plans are coming.
Biden also pledges an overhaul of US foreign policy in the Americas, echoing fellow Democrats who have panned Trump’s approach.
The answer, Biden argued, is US engagement and aid that expands “economic opportunity … so that people feel safe to stay in their home countries.”
Apart from his citizenship proposal for people who came to the US as children, Biden in his outline does not directly address the more than 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
As vice president, Biden backed an immigration overhaul that would have established a path to citizenship for most of those residents. That effort cleared the Senate but died in what was then a Republican-led House.
The immigrants brought to the US as children are commonly referred to as “Dreamers” because of never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act, which would have allowed them to remain if they met certain criteria.
Immigration has not been a top priority among Democratic presidential candidates thus far, other than sweeping condemnations of Trump’s values.