Joe Biden delivers ‘stinging rebuke’ to Trump on immigration

Ex-president Joe Biden has closed the deal on his year-long reign as monarch of thanksgiving, visiting a border town in Texas for a third time and then delivering a sobering speech on immigration.

Days after the White House released a leaked memo stating that the administration will seek to cut about $2bn out of border security funding – an amount far below the US-Mexico border’s nearly $5bn annual budget – Biden came to support Democrats.

In a speech at Laredo, Texas’s Kingwood Missionary Baptist church, he said that Americans would not be undermined by a country “swamped with millions of people” illegally trying to cross from Mexico into the US.

“This idea that some people who come into our country illegally [are] bad, or are criminals – this is a lie,” he said. “This is just to get us to say ‘yes’ to more wall, more security, more force, more is more, only to do us further harm than ever was done before. We’re not for that. We’re not for that at all.”

With two presidential campaigns now out of the way, Biden and many of his Democratic political colleagues – including Booker, Booker, Harris, Ocasio-Cortez, Gillibrand, Warren, McCaskill and Sanders – have all joined the debate over immigration. Their opposition to Trump’s wall has drawn criticism from the White House, which insists immigration is a priority – even though border apprehensions are at a 40-year low.

Other Democrats, particularly those in conservative states, are more wary of the immigration issue and are angling for a reversal of the liberal backlash over the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants from Central America at the end of last year. Some saw a political opening in recent weeks after it was confirmed that Arizona senator Jeff Flake, a staunch Trump critic, would not run for reelection.

Biden joined the chorus of Democrats who’ve ridiculed Trump’s idea of splitting up families fleeing violence in Central America.

“We know that prosecuting adults who violate our laws only attracts more to come and our country is less safe,” he said. “To give you an idea of the magnitude of the operation that was asked for, you and I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago and said: ‘What are you going to do, what do you need?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have anything.’ And he said: ‘Don’t worry about it. We will send lawyers.’”

Biden also pushed for a comprehensive immigration reform that includes changes to legal immigration for a “rational” process for those seeking to join families and enter the US legally. He touted the role that the Border Patrol has played in fighting drug trafficking in the region.

“All we ask is that our border be protected because that is what our job is,” he said. “Our job is to protect this country. It is not to protect our bigotry, its not to protect our nativism, it’s not to protect what I refer to as wishful thinking.”

On Wednesday, the message wasn’t lost on hundreds of people waiting to hear Biden speak. Elvina Gonzalez, a 58-year-old citizen from Laredo, said she had come out to hear what Biden had to say.

“He’s said some good things and very important things,” she said. “We need more people working in this country. We need jobs. But if they take the jobs, who will do the work?”

Gonzalez hoped Biden would raise her concerns about the construction of a wall and enforcement on the border.

“What we need is an objective and comprehensive view of the situation we have here,” she said. “We need to help the people come in legally. It’s not our fault we live in the United States. It’s not up to us to take up residence in foreign lands. We’re good citizens.”

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