Dozens of activists and illegal immigrants stormed former vice president Joe Biden’s Philadelphia campaign office Wednesday and vowed not to leave until he apologized for the high number of deportations under Obama, and promised to end the practice if elected president.
Less than two hours later, many had given up.
‼️ 6 people arrested today at @JoeBiden‘s campaign office in Philadelphia as immigrant families confronted the Dem frontrunner over the 3 mil deportations that took place while he was VP. They are demanding an apology and commitment to end all detention & deportation on day 1. pic.twitter.com/vdIPisycom
— Movimiento Cosecha (@CosechaMovement) July 10, 2019
“A group of families whose loved ones were among the roughly 3 million people deported under the Obama administration will hold a sit-in at Joe Biden’s campaign headquarters in Philadelphia on Wednesday, saying they’ll refuse to leave until they receive an apology from the former vice president,” The Huffington Post reported.
An update a short time later:
After protesters demonstrated for hour and a half in the building’s lobby using megaphones and signs, Philadelphia police arrested six activists from the group. When police arrived, undocumented families left the building to avoid being arrested and potentially sent into ICE custody.
The protest highlighted the policies that earned former President Obama the dubious title “deporter-in-chief,” and Biden often reminds the public he was Obama’s right-hand man.
Wednesday’s protesters erected makeshift cages in Biden’s campaign headquarters, where they also sat Indian style in the lobby with a sign that read “52,000+ in Detention Today!” Biden wasn’t at the office, and his campaign basically ignored the protestors’ concerns.
“6 people arrested today at @JoeBiden’s campaign office in Philadelphia as immigrant families confronted the Dem frontrunner over the 3 mil deportations that took place while he was VP,” Movimiento Cosecha, the group that organized the protest, posted to Twitter. “They are demanding an apology and commitment to end all detention & deportation on day 1.”
CNN’s Jake Trapper highlighted the stunt Thursday.
“We talk a lot about how there were also things going on at the border and with the undocumented community under Obama and Biden,” Trapper said. “Obama deported many more of them, and here you have a group taking Biden on on the issue, a liberal group.”
Biden said during the first presidential debate that “President Obama, I think, did a heck of a job” with immigration and alleged “to compare him to what (Trump) is doing is … close to immoral,” but the folks who showed up at his campaign headquarters clearly disagreed.
“We can’t ignore the fact he was complacent to Obama’s vicious deportation machine,” Catalina Santiago, media coordinator for Movimiento Cosecha, told the Huffington Post. “He is shamelessly ignoring the countless families he destroyed.”
Axios confirmed in June that Obama did, in fact, do “a heck of a job” of identifying and removing illegal immigrants from the country, in some years nearly doubling deportation figures under the Trump administration.
“Under the Obama administration, total ICE deportations were above 385,000 each year in fiscal years 2009-2011, and hit a high of 409,849 in fiscal 2012. The numbers dropped to below 250,000 in fiscal years 2015 and 2016,” according to the news site.
“Under Trump, ICE deportations fell to 226,119 in fiscal 2017, then ticked up to over 250,000 in fiscal 2018 and hit a Trump administration high of 282,242 this fiscal year (as of June).”
The protest comes ahead of announced ICE raids across the country this weekend focused on removing immigrants who are in the United States illegally. Julie Mao, immigration attorney with Just Futures Law, told the Huffington Post there’s fundamentally no difference between immigration enforcement under Obama-Biden than under Trump-Pence.
“They are very much the same policies,” she said. “We need a change in policy, not just a change in identity politics or dog whistle politics.”
Meanwhile, illegal immigrants like Norma Morales, one of the protestors at Biden’s office, are pushing for commitments from the frontrunner and other Democrat candidates to end deportations and make things right with millions deported under Biden’s watch.
“I want him to find a way to bring home the families that were separated and repair the damage,” Morales told the Huffington Post.