Joe Biden is supporting an absolute moratorium on deportations of anyone in the United States for his first 100 days in office if he wins the presidency — something his campaign had denied earlier on Saturday after immigrant advocates said they had been led to believe that was his new position.
"Vice President Biden is absolutely committed to a 100 day moratorium on any deportations of people already in the United States," the Biden campaign and the Latino Victory Fund said in a joint statement to BuzzFeed News on Saturday afternoon. "The campaign and Latino Victory Fund stand fully together in this and in the mission to support immigrant communities and center all the issues important to Latinos at the heart of this movement as we work to send Donald Trump and his unmitigated assault on our national values packing."
The statement is an explicit reversal of one from just hours before, when a Biden adviser told BuzzFeed News that characterizing recent comments from Biden as supporting a moratorium "is inaccurate."
The proposal is something progressive immigrant activists have pushed Biden and other presidential candidates on for months.
At a CNN town hall on Thursday, Biden said, "We have a right to protect the border. But the idea — and by the way, nobody, and some of you are going to get mad at me with this, but nobody is going to be deported in my first 100 days until we get through the point that we find out the only rationale for deportation will be whether or not, whether or not you've committed a felony while in the country.”
The Latino Victory Fund endorsed Biden days before the town hall, and on Friday night Mayra Macías, the organization’s executive director, tweeted that Biden in a meeting with the group had committed to a moratorium on deportations in his first 100 days.
The endorsement of a major Latino group was a win for Biden in the lead-up to the Nevada caucus, which the team has repeatedly said is “the beginning of a representation of what the country looks like,” as Biden said on Friday night at a campaign event.
“Latino Victory Fund is one of the most important organizations in the country,” Biden said, thanking the group for their endorsement on Friday.
“It’s the single most important group in America,” Biden said of Latinos.
Biden's campaign adviser, in the initial statement to BuzzFeed News, denied that this was a new policy.
“The Vice President made clear in his town hall answer, as he has said many times before, that under his Administration, enforcement efforts will be narrowly targeted to those who commit a felony offense in the United States or who present a national security threat,” the adviser said. “Trump's enforcement actions have been so egregious and indiscriminate, the VP was saying that he would pause and take the time to review the deportation proceedings of those with long-standing ties in the United States, of families with children here, to ensure we are correcting Trump's abuses.”
“The Vice President's entire answer was premised on and grounded in his commitment to ending family separations, he's been saying that for months, and his answer was entirely consistent with that,” the aide said.
Macías brushed aside the campaign's initial comment hours before releasing the joint statement with the campaign. “Vice President Joe Biden after his comments at the CNN town hall, reiterated his 100 day moratorium on deportation. We take his word on it and expect his campaign to rectify their mistake. We look forward to working with the V.P. Biden on the issues impacting Latinos and immigrants in his campaign.”
Another spokesperson for the group confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Friday night that their understanding was that this was a change of policy from Biden and that he had announced that shift in position publicly for the first time at the CNN town hall.
Immigrant rights advocate Jess Morales Rocketto, who initially congratulated Latino Victory Fund and Macías for getting the campaign to shift their stance on a moratorium, said on learning that the campaign denied that there’s been a change in policy, “The vice president keeps taking courageous stances and then walking away from them.”