Last Thursday’s Presidential Debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump offered a stark contrast on the state of immigration. From a year filled with some of the most polarizing immigration policies, President Donald Trump reaffirmed his stance on his anti-immigration sentiment. At one point, the President called immigrants who return to immigration courts for a scheduled court date as “low IQ” individuals. The President’s blatant disregard for the struggles immigrants face when seeking asylum is in contrast with his political foe. Debate moderator Kristin Wilker asked what the administration planned on doing with the 545 children that have failed to be reunited with their parents amid the president’s criticism of legal immigration.
The president ignored the question asked by the Moderator and accused the former Vice Presidents’ efforts on “catch and release” as a form of aiding illegal immigration into the United States. The program, that was adopted under the Obama administration would require detainees to be released from federal custody pending their court hearings. The president claimed that many immigrants never showed up, jeopardizing the policy’s intentions. “Only really … I hate to say this … those with the lowest IQ, they might come back,” Trump said.
The president’s remarks at the final debate were reminiscent of the 2015 press conference at Trump Tower where he announced his candidacy for president. Then-candidate Donald Trump accused Mexican Immigrants of heinous acts. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Although the President’s immigration rhetoric on building a wall and stronger immigration policies were cornerstones of his 2016 candidacy, many Americans are focused on the economic and novel coronavirus. The state of immigration has been eclipsed as the first two presidential debates had little to no mention of the President’s strict policies.
The president repeatedly accused former Vice President Joe Biden of building steel cages during the Obama Administration. “Who built the cages, Joe?” Trump said over and over. The President was correct in asserting that the former VP built the cages, as the policy of detaining migrant children in federal custody was established by then-President Obama. Although the Obama era policy only required migrant children to be held in cages for just 72 hours before being released to federal agencies for placement. Under the Trump administration, the policy was much stricter, and detained children were held for extended periods.
Debate moderator Kristen Welker asked Biden why the former Vice President and President allowed for migrant children to be separated from their parents and why no comprehensive plan for immigration reform was delivered. Biden then responded, “We made a mistake, It took too long to get it right.” The Biden Plan for immigration would include comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for nearly eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The president furthered his attack on immigrants stating false claims that most immigrants don’t show up for their scheduled court hearings. Nearly 80% of immigrants show up to their court hearings, much higher than the 1% the president claimed. The President also stated children are rarely brought to the United States with their family, instead stating “Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people. Cartels,” Trump said. “And they’re brought here and they used to use them to get into our country.”
The administration has failed to provide an adequate explanation as to why millions of migrant children have yet to be reunited with their family members. Instead, the president said detained children “are so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that are so clean.”
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