In a clear shift to the left, former Vice President Joe Biden has pledged to put a hold on all deportations during his first 100 days in office and to then only remove illegal aliens who have committed a felony.
Biden participated in a CNN town hall event in Nevada on Thursday night, just days before the state heads to the polls for the Democratic presidential primary. While speaking on the issue of immigration, the former vice president said, if he is elected to the White House, he will pause all deportations in his fist 100 days in office — an apparent change in position from his previous statements.
“Some of you are going to get mad at me with this, but nobody is going to be deported in my first 100 days until we get through the point we find out the only rationale for deportation will be whether or not, whether or not you have committed a felony while in the country,” Biden said Thursday.
Biden then said that there were immigrant families afraid to go to the doctor or attend church, believing that they may be arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for living in the U.S. illegally.
This is a new position by the former vice president. When Biden unveiled his comprehensive immigration platform in December, he did not propose any 100-day pauses on deportations, nor did he declare that removals would be limited to just illegal aliens who have committed felonies.
Since entering the presidential race, Biden has occupied the more moderate lane on immigration compared to his more progressive opponents. While his rivals Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren have both pledged to ban deportations and decriminalize illegal immigration, Biden has refrained from adopting such positions, but has vowed to reverse a number of immigration initiatives launched under the Trump administration.
However, Biden has taken heat from immigrant-rights activists and other progressives for high deportation rate under the Obama administration, with activists storming his campaign offices and reminding him of that fact. As recently as Wednesday during the Nevada debate, protesters shouted at Biden, yelling that he oversaw “three million deportations” during his time in the Obama administration.
The pivot comes as Biden has seen his stock in the Democratic presidential contest fall. Once a front-runner in the race, Biden failed to win Iowa or New Hampshire and is not projected to win in Nevada either. The state is the first in the nominating contest to hold a substantial Latino population.
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