News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 23, 2020: The hot button issue of immigration, which Donald Trump made the cornerstone of his campaign and government in the past four years, finally made an entrance into the presidential and vice presidential debates for the first time Thursday night, sending the topic quickly trending on Twitter.
Moderator Kristen Welker introduced the topic towards the end of the debate on the heels of news this week thatthe American Civil Liberties Union lawyersstill cannot find the parents of over 500 children who were snatched from their parents and separated by the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policies.
But Trump defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which separated migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border and made the claim that the children separated at the US-Mexico border are “well taken care of” when asked about immigration during the third presidential debate.
The president then blatantly lied by claiming it was the Barack Obama administration instituted the separation policy and his administration only carried it out. But it was the Trump administration’s s zero tolerance policy that resulted in the separations. The administration later admitted it began separating families under a pilot program in 2017.
Pressed on if his government will help to reunite the children with their parents he said: “We’re trying very hard, but a lot of these kids come up without the parents. They come over through cartels and the coyotes.”
Then he added: “They are so well taken care of. They are in facilities that are so clean.”
Trump then deflected from his heart wrenching policy, claiming the Obama administration built the “cages” to hold migrants. The Obama administration built migrant holding facilities with the intended purpose to hold migrant children for 72 hours before releasing them to federal agencies for placement. Trump administration flouted the Flores rule by holding them indefinitely and not following the ‘catch and release’ policy.
Why? He said that only “those with the lowest IQ … might come back,” a fact that many fact checkers say is untrue, though the Trump administration has stopped releasing updated data. Attorneys says over 90% of immigrants appear for hearings.
But Democratic challenger Joe Biden called the action “criminal” by the Trump administration.
“They separated from their parents and it makes us a laughing stock and violates every motion of who we are as a nation,” Mr Biden said. “Those kids are alone with nowhere to go. It’s criminal.”
Biden for his part said he will propose legislation to find pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country and for those children, now adults, brought over by their parents or guardians at a young age to the US without documentation.
Known as “Dreamers,” thousands got a temporary reprieve under the Obama administration under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan or DACA. But they now live in fear of deportation after Trump early in his tenure, upended DACA, forcing many organizations to take to the court. Over the summer, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s plan to dismantle DACA, but the administration has tried to go around the ruling by not accepting new applications.
“They’re going to be immediately certified again to stay in this country and put on a path to citizenship” rather than “sent home to a country they’ve never seen before,” Biden said of his plan. “Many of them are model citizens. Over 20,000 of them are first responders out there taking care of people during this crisis. We owe them.”
When asked why the Obama administration did not do more to protect them, Biden conceded that it “took too long to get it right.”
Pushed by Trump on immigration and asked about what his administration would do differently from his time as vice president, Biden referenced Barack Obama, but not in a particularly fond way.
“It was a major mistake,” Biden said of the Obama-era immigration policies. “It took too long to get it right.”
Biden added that things will be different if he’s in the big chair.
“I’ll be president of the United States, not vice president of the United States,” Biden said.
The introduction of immigration into the debate finally comes as US ICE announced it is now moving to use its expanded swift deportation authority. Any immigrant in the country who can’t prove to an immigration officer they have been in the country for more than two years could be deported within days without a hearing.