Biden details immigration vision ahead of first Democratic 2020 debate

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, called on Monday for making “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the United States as children citizens and investing in border technology.

Biden’s comments were made in an op-ed for the Miami Herald ahead of the first Democratic presidential debate in Florida this week. He said Republican President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would neither stop drugs from entering the country nor curb illegal immigration.

He said most illegal immigration cases were the result of individuals over-staying their visas.

“It’s imperative that we secure our borders, but ‘build the wall’ is a slogan divorced from reality,” Biden wrote.

Trump said at the weekend he would delay for two weeks a plan to deport thousands of individuals who have missed a court date or have already been given deportation orders while the U.S. Congress negotiates changes to the asylum process.

“I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes. This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big Deportation begins!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Biden said Trump’s deportation plan was more evidence that his re-election strategy “relies on vilifying immigrants to score political points while implementing policies that ensure asylum seekers and refugees keep arriving at our border.”

Biden said Trump and his administration’s policies had taken a “wrecking ball to our hemispheric ties,” weakening relationships with neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean.

While Biden did not release a detailed immigration policy proposal, he wrote that the United States is “a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” signaling he may take a more moderate stance on the issue than some of his 24 competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination.

White House contender Julián Castro, a former housing chief in the Obama administration, has called for an end to the criminalisation of illegal border crossings. Several other candidates, including U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, have proposed dramatically curtailing the work of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

(Reporting By Amanda Becker; Editing by Paul Tait)