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Former Vice President Joe Biden: Trump’s family separation policy is “abhorrent”

Biden speaks out about family separation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks At Discussion On Middle Class At The Brookings Institution Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden released a strongly worded statement on Wednesday afternoon calling the Trump administration’s practice of separating young children from their parents “unconscionable” and “abhorrent.”

“A policy that separates young children from their parents isn’t a ‘deterrent.’ It’s unconscionable,” Biden, who is currently topping the polls as a 2020 presidential candidate, wrote in the statement. “A policy that traumatizes children isn’t a bargaining chip. It’s abhorrent. And a President and an administration that continues this policy isn’t protecting our border and our people. It threatens to make us a pariah in the world.”

Biden spoke from experience on such a controversial topic. In the Obama administration, he dealt with the 2014 surge of unaccompanied Central American children crossing the US border as they fled their home countries.

The Obama administration also faced harsh criticism for its actions at the time. Obama was sometimes referred to as the “deporter in chief” by immigrant rights groups, which criticized his administration’s removal of more than 2.5 million people with immigration orders between 2009 and 2015. Large numbers of migrants were also detained while waiting for deportation proceedings under his administration.

Biden referenced his own work traveling to Guatemala in 2014 to discuss the influx of unaccompanied Central American children streaming across the US border, and to encourage leaders there to make their own countries safer to cut down on the flow of migrants. He traveled back to the country in subsequent years for the same purpose.

“I know how difficult this problem is,” he said. “As vice president, I was charged with leading our response when we saw a surge of unaccompanied minors on our border. And I can tell you the answer is not to toss aside our values, our principles, and our humanity.”

The Obama administration did not make it a policy to separate undocumented families while they were detained in government facilities. Officials from both the Obama and Bush administrations told the New York Times that while they considered implementing such a policy, they decided it would be too draconian.

Biden reiterated that in his Wednesday statement.

“We must send the clearest possible signal to the rest of the world that America still represents the best of humanity — not the worst,” he said.

Read Biden’s entire statement on Facebook or below:

This is not who we are. America is better than this.

What we are seeing at our border right now — children only a few months old being pulled from their mothers’ arms, toddlers distraught and wailing for their parents, children being separated from their parents with no idea if they will ever see them again — is fundamentally at odds with everything this nation stands for and believes.

A policy that separates young children from their parents isn’t a “deterrent”. It’s unconscionable.

A policy that traumatizes children isn’t a bargaining chip. It’s abhorrent.

And a President and an administration that continues this policy isn’t protecting our border and our people. It threatens to make us a pariah in the world.

I know how difficult this problem is. As Vice President, I was charged with leading our response when we saw a surge of unaccompanied minors on our border. And I can tell you the answer is not to toss aside our values, our principles, and our humanity.

The real key to solving this problem lies not on our border. We have to deal with this problem in countries these people are fleeing. Addressing the root causes of migration, as our administration did by pushing Central American governments to undertake ambitious political reforms and going after criminal groups responsible for the smuggling of drugs and people, is the only way to reduce the flows of migrants fleeing to the United States in search of a better life. It is hard. It is not simple. There is no easy or quick fix. And unfortunately, the current administration has cut back on the very tools needed to get the job done.

This President could end the practice of separating families right now if he wanted to — and he should. It’s our duty to demand that he do so. Stand up. Show up. Speak out. No one, not even a President, can change who we are as America and what we stand for — if we the people stand united and unleash all that power that is in our hands. We must remind this Administration of the core values that beat in the heart of this country. We must send the clearest possible signal to the rest of the world that America still represents the best of humanity — not the worst.

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