After Immigration Activists Heckle Biden During Debate, Biden Skewers Sanders on the Issue

By Patrick Goodenough | February 20, 2020 | 12:26am EST
Sen. Bernie Sanders makes a point to former Vice President Joe Biden during the debate. (Photo by Mark Ralson/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Bernie Sanders makes a point to former Vice President Joe Biden during the debate. (Photo by Mark Ralson/AFP via Getty Images)

( – As the six Democratic presidential candidates on the platform in Las Vegas gave their closing statements in a debate marked by confrontation and sometimes personal attacks, former Vice President Joe Biden was interrupted by hecklers yelling slogans about immigration.

Biden stood and waited while the shouting continued. Members of the audience began to clap and chant, in an apparent attempt to drown out the hecklers.

It was not clear immediately whether or not Biden heard what the indistinct shouting was about, but as he wrapped up his delayed minute-long statement he took a swipe at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for his decision to vote against a 2007 immigration reform bill.

“The only person in here who has a worse record on immigration” – Biden did not say worse than whom – “is Bernie, because Bernie voted against a 2007 bill. Had in fact that immigration bill passed there would be ten – six million members would be now American citizens.”

Sanders, who was last to wrap up, hit back at Biden, saying that Latino groups including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) “saw that bill having provisions akin to slavery.”

Sanders then went on to attack President Trump – “the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.”


The group that took responsibility for the heckling was the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) Action, which said the chants had included, “Don’t Look Away” and “No Kids in Cages.”

“We need a Democratic candidate to adopt the #MigrantJusticePlatform and commit themselves to improve the lives of migrants and refugees!” tweeted the group, whose Twitter following of some 3,500 climbed by around six percent in the hour following the end the debate.

The group complained that the entire debate “only had one question on the issue of immigration,” even though, they said, immigration was Trump’s “number one issue.”

“The Democrats cannot win without supporting the immigrant community,” it said.

A RAICES Action activist said in a video clip afterwards that the reason they interrupted Biden was “because in the last three debates there have been absolutely no questions about immigration. There’s no conversation, nothing, other than a few candidates saying they support comprehensive immigration reform, which is not enough.”

The group’s “Don’t Look Away” campaign entailed the setting up of cages in Des Moines coinciding with the recent Iowa caucuses.


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