(CNSNews.com) - If he's elected president, former vice president Joe Biden promised he would be a champion for illegal immigrants. Speaking at the CNN-hosted debate Sunday night, Biden discussed immigration in his now-familiar, "one-two" format:
"I will send to the desk immediately a bill that requires the access to citizenship for 11 million undocumented folks, number one. Number two, in the first 100 days of my administration, no one, no one will be deported at all. From that point on, the only deportations that will take place are commissions of felonies in the United States of America."
Moderator Ilia Calderon followed up: "So to be clear, only felons get deported and everyone else gets to stay?"
"Period, yes," Biden said. "Yes, and the reason is -- it's about uniting families, it's about making sure that we can both be a nation of immigrants as well as a nation that is decent."
Later, on the question of border security, Biden said: "Look, we can deal with securing the border by national technical means. All the bad things are coming through ports of entry right now. We don't need a wall.
And by the way, I would immediately as president surge to the border. I would end this notion for the first time in history that people seeking asylum have to be in squalor on the other side of the river, and in just desperate situation. They should be able to come to the United States and have a judgment made as to whether or not they qualify.
I would also surge to the border immigration judges to make decisions immediately. And no one, no one would be put in jail while waiting for their hearing.
Calderon noted that Biden opposed sanctuary cities as a presidential candidate in 2007. "Where do you stand now? Should undocumented immigrants, arrested by local police, be turned over to immigration officials?"
"No," Biden said. (Sen. Bernie Sanders also said no. Sanders called for an end to ICE raids.)
"Look, we are a nation of immigrants," Biden said:
Our future rests upon the Latino community being fully integrated. Twenty-four out of every 100 children in school today from kindergarten through high school is a Latino. Right now, today.
The idea that any American thinks it doesn't pay for us to significantly invest in their future is absolutely a bizarre notion, because if we do not invest, everything that the very wealthy are concerned about and the xenophobes are concerned about will, in fact, get worse, not better.
We should be embracing, bringing them in, just like what happened with the Irish immigrants after the famine, just what happened with the Italians, et cetera. We have been through this before. Xenophobia is a disease.