Opinion

CONTRERAS: Biden Should Tell The Truth About Obama’s Record — He Didn’t Deport That Many People

REUTERS/Larry Downing

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a history of tripping over his own two legs and tongue.

Sometimes he supports President Obama’s immigration record to his detriment. Obama has been labeled “deporter-in-chief” by pro-immigrant groups because he allegedly “deported” millions of people during his two terms in the White House, but the facts indicate otherwise.

Biden has applauded Obama for creating the “Dreamers” by issuing an executive order to legalize many brought to the United States when they were children. Biden is right; it was an excellent attempt to solve a problem that most Americans believe should be solved.

Biden should spend all of his time praising Obama’s efforts and criticizing President Trump for attempting to junk the program. It would be a winning strategy; even many Republicans support the Dreamers.

In the Democratic debate in Detroit, he should have answered questions about why Obama deported so many people with the truth: it never happened. The truth is that Obama’s deportation numbers were, at best, “misleading.” They were not as high as is often claimed.

Overestimating deportation numbers is nothing new. Old claims suggested President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” deported 13 million illegal aliens and frightened even more to “self-deport.” Those numbers were false.

Yes, telling the truth about Obama’s deportations involves throwing Obama under the bus insofar as it might make him look weaker on border security. However, it would also enable Biden to evade the charge that Obama was the “deporter-in-chief.”

Experienced border observers are quick to point out the truth. Presidents Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 all reported two separate numbers when it came to border enforcement. The first was the number of people deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) after federal judges ordered deportation. The second was the number of people who were caught within 100 miles of the border by law enforcement and “turned around” after the detainee voluntarily signed a statement admitting he had entered the country illegally and was voluntarily returning to Mexico.

That’s the truth, and that is why some estimates claim Obama “deported” millions of people. Many of them “volunteered” rather than go through “due process,” which can take much more time, including around six months in jail.

There’s also another big difference between Trump’s deportation numbers and Obama’s. Obama’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) concentrated on criminal aliens who had been convicted of real crimes in the U.S. Today’s ICE does not. Now it deports people with broken tail lights.

If we compare Obama’s criminal alien deportations to Trump’s, Trump loses. Biden has totally dropped the ball on the goal line with this fumble. Obama performed very well at deporting criminal aliens. Biden should be singing that song, loudly.

Pandering to Obama and his supporters has caused Biden to screw up. He should explain the numbers and how Obama concentrated on deporting criminal aliens.

The truth is that Obama wasn’t the “deporter-in-chief.” Repairs for the border fencing that Obama sought and signed into law are still in progress today. President Trump is taking credit for the work.

Biden could beat his Democratic challengers by singing Obama’s praises. Almost everyone supports the “Dreamers,” except for President Trump. Biden has not helped himself by avoiding the issue.

Raoul Contreras is the author of “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” He formerly wrote for the New York Times’ New America News Service.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.