- Dolores Huertalegendary labor leader, renowned civil rights activist, president and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing, also co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez. She is co-chair for Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign.
Immigration rights activists abruptly interrupted Joe Biden during last night’s debate, chanting “3 million deportations!”—referring to the Obama administration’s deportation of at least 3 million undocumented people. During the debate, Julián Castro repeatedly challenged Biden’s record on immigration. “It looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t,” Castro said. We speak to Dolores Huerta and Cornel West.
More from this Interview
- Part 1: Dolores Huerta & Cornel West Respond to Democratic Debate as Biden & Harris Face Harsh Scrutiny
- Part 2: “You Owe Them an Apology”: Tulsi Gabbard Slams Kamala Harris on Her Record as California AG
- Part 3: “You’re Dipping into the Kool-Aid”: Booker Accuses Biden of Helping Drive Mass Incarceration
- Part 4: Dolores Huerta Accuses Biden of “Speaking Just Like a Republican” on Immigration
- Part 5: “It Wasn’t a Golden Age”: Cornel West Says Democrats Have to Reckon with Mixed Obama Legacy
- Part 6: Cornel West: Corporate Media’s Superficial Coverage Helped Create “Fascist Frankenstein Trump”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go back to last night’s debate on the issue of immigration. This is former Vice President Joe Biden.
JOE BIDEN: The fact of the matter is, you should be able to—if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It’s a crime. It’s a crime, and it’s not one that, in fact—
DON LEMON: Thank—thank you, Mr. Vice President. Secretary Castro, please, your response?
JULIÁN CASTRO: Yeah, first of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t. Let me begin by telling you—let me just start out by answering that question. My immigration plan would also fix the broken legal immigration system—
JOE BIDEN: I agree.
JULIÁN CASTRO: —because we do have a problem with that. Secondly, the only way that we’re going to guarantee that these kinds of family separations don’t happen in the future is that we need to repeal this law. There are still going to be consequences if somebody crosses the border. It’s a civil action. Also, we have 654 miles of fencing. We have thousands of personnel at the border. We have planes. We have boats.
DON LEMON: Secretary—
JULIÁN CASTRO: We have helicopters. We have security cameras.
DON LEMON: Secretary Castro, thank you.
JULIÁN CASTRO: What we need are politicians—
DON LEMON: Your time is up.
JULIÁN CASTRO: —that actually have some guts on this issue.
DON LEMON: Thank you, Secretary. Mr. Vice President, please, your response?
JOE BIDEN: I have guts enough to say his plan doesn’t make sense. Here’s the deal: The fact of the matter is that, in fact, when people cross the border illegally, it is illegal to do it, unless they’re seeking asylum. People should have to get in line. That’s the problem. And the only reason this particular part of the law is being abused is because of Donald Trump. We should defeat Donald Trump and end this practice.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s former Vice President Joe Biden and the former mayor of San Antonio, the former Obama HUD Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Julián Castro, sparring in last night’s debate in Dutoit. Our guests are Dr. Cornel West and Dolores Huerta, the renowned civil rights activist, the former—the co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America.
Dolores Huerta, the issue of immigration. On the one hand, you have what President Trump is doing, and then you have the man who, well, worked closely with the president of the United States, President Obama, who became known, even among his supporters and immigrant rights allies, as the “deporter-in-chief,” deporting millions and millions and millions of people. Talk about this issue and what Julián said, Julián Castro, who we interviewed last week when he was in Davenport, Iowa, saying, “One of us learned the lessons of the past,” since they were both Obama officials—”One of us learned the lessons of the past, and one of us didn’t.”
DOLORES HUERTA: Yes. It is, of course, a great disappointment to hear Vice President Biden use that kind of language, because he’s really speaking just like the Republicans. When people cross the border, it is a civil offense. It should not be a criminal offense. And unfortunately, the Congress made it a criminal offense, when they say that if people are deported twice, then they’re felons. So, when they talk about that they’ve deported all of these felons, they’re talking about people that crossed the border twice, and then they made it a felony. So, they have, again, criminalized. And you have seen that the number of people that have been incarcerated for immigration offenses, it spiked, just like putting young people in prison in the United States also spiked. So it’s like this whole attack against especially people of color.
You know, we’ve had an amnesty program in the United States from the time that this country was formed by immigrants, and yet people seem to forget that. And to hear Joe Biden call people that are trying to make a better life in this country, and saying that they have done things that are illegal and that they should stand in line, I would like to know if his family stood in line when they came from where they came from. So, it is just really unfortunate. And we know that it’s time that we get a new president and that we make immigration one of the top issues. It is so sad not only to see families separated at the border, to see people in cages, but also to know many of the people that we work with—to know that their families have also been separated, people that have been here for many, many years and that are hard-working people, contributing people. And with these recent ICE raids that the president declared, and to see that these families are broken and separated, and what they have to go through, it definitely needs to be fixed. And again, it’s unfortunate and sad to see Biden take these positions.