Joe Biden Calls for Immigration Overhaul, Acknowledging ‘Pain’ From Deportations

Joe Biden Calls for Immigration Overhaul, Acknowledging ‘Pain’ From Deportations

Mr. Biden would set the annual cap on refugees admitted to the United States at 125,000, far more than the limit of 18,000 that the Trump administration has set for the current fiscal year, and above the cap of 110,000 at the end of the Obama administration. His plan calls for doubling the number of immigration judges, interpreters and court staff members in an effort to address the immigration court backlog. He would also end the use of for-profit detention centers.

Despite a push on the left to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, Mr. Biden’s plan stops short of seeking that or even outlining any major restructuring of the agency. His plan says his administration would ensure that personnel at ICE, as well as at Customs and Border Protection, “abide by professional standards and are held accountable for inhumane treatment.”

Mr. Biden’s plan does not call for decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, a move supported by some other Democratic presidential candidates. Asked at a debate in June whether they believed that crossing the border without documentation should be a civil offense instead of a crime, most of the candidates onstage raised their hands. Mr. Biden raised a finger.

The next week, in an interview on CNN, he said he did not support the decriminalization of such crossings. “I think people should have to get in line, but if people are coming because they’re actually seeking asylum, they should have a chance to make their case,” he said.

Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, said Mr. Biden’s plan “can hold up in a rough-and-tumble primary and hold up in a rough-and tumble general” race against Mr. Trump.

“The challenge is to adopt an approach that speaks to both progressives and moderates,” he added. “That’s hard to do in today’s Democratic Party. I don’t think most of the candidates get that balance right on most things. But I will give Joe Biden’s team credit for getting it right on this immigration platform.”

Alongside its immigration plan, Mr. Biden’s campaign also released a plan for Central America, which calls for spending $4 billion over four years to address issues that are spurring migration from that region. Earlier this year, Mr. Trump announced he was cutting off aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to punish them for not doing enough to stop the flow of migrants, though the administration said in October that it would resume some aid.

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