The Democrats seeking to thwart President Trump’s reelection bid next year sought to draw stark contrasts with his administration’s hardline immigration agenda during the third Democratic presidential debate in Houston.
The first White House hopeful to be asked about the issue during the debate hosted by ABC News on Thursday night was Joe Biden. Jorge Ramos, the longtime anchor at the Spanish-language television network Univision, pressed the former vice president on the high number of deportations of undocumented immigrants during the Obama administration.
“Are you prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations,” Ramos asked. “Why should Latinos trust you?”
Biden largely demurred, pointing instead to his opposition to Mr. Trump’s stringent immigration policies. “Comparing this president to the president we have is outrageous,” he countered. “Number one, we didn’t lock people up in cages. We didn’t separate families.”
Biden stressed that he’s proud to have served under Mr. Obama, noting that their administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation and supported efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform that ultimately collapsed in Congress.
Biden also said he would, if elected, roll back restrictions the Trump administration has imposed on migrants trying to seek asylum in the U.S. But Ramos reminded the former vice president that he had not answered the question of whether the Obama administration should have deported so many people.
“The president did the best thing that was able to be done at the time,” Biden said, referring to Mr. Obama.
Ramos then turned to Mr. Obama’s second Housing Secretary Julián Castro, who wasted not time to go after Biden. Castro said he agreed with Biden that Mr. Obama was a very different president than Mr. Trump, whom he said has a “dark heart” when it comes to immigration.
But he quickly