Before Tuesday’s Democratic Debate in Des Moines, Iowa, members of United We Dream Action (UWDA) protested outside the debate venue, calling on presidential candidate Joe Biden to “make real commitments to our immigrant community” and “stop the deportation force of ICE and CBP from continuing to criminalize, deport and kill immigrants,” according to a media release shared by UWDA.
“Will you commit to stopping all deportations in the first 100 days or will you side with the deportation force?” a Tuesday tweet by UWDA said.
“The father of my three children was deported under the Obama/Biden administration. My children and I know first-hand what Biden’s record on immigration looks like. I shared my story today because I need Vice President Biden to understand the impact of the deportation force,” UWDA member Elsa Osorio said in the release. “We need to hear more than rejections of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and immigration plans that take us back to the Obama years. Families like mine need the next president of the United States to commit to dismantle the deportation force which has separated families like mine.”
The Tuesday action by UWDA comes a month after Biden, who has been challenged by immigrant rights groups in the past, acknowledged on his campaign website that he “understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden administration.”
This acknowledgment was part of a immigration plan that the Biden campaign released in December. That plan includes several commitments to many current Trump policies in the first 100 days of a Biden administrations, but did not call for a moratorium on deportations, an issue embraced by undocumented youth as well as candidate Bernie Sanders. Initially, Sanders was not in favor of a moratorium, but changed his position last September.
“With this election, immigrant youth and our families are in the fight for our lives. To win against Trump’s policies, we need a candidate who is willing to fight for immigrants by stopping the mass incarceration and deportation of our communities,” Adrian Reyna, UWDA strategy director said in the release. “[Biden’s] current immigrant plan and campaign rhetoric shows us that he does not understand how the criminalization of people of color leads to deportation. His plan would keep the deportation force as is, and we know that we can’t have a presidential candidate that supports both the deportation force and immigrants.”
“We will continue to push candidates to make the necessary commitments that actually protect our people from deportation and allow us to thrive,” Reyna added.