(CNSNews.com) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” on Sunday that Vice President Joe Biden “absolutely” has to answer for the Obama administration deporting far more illegal aliens a year than the Trump administration.
Tapper noted that the Obama administration also targeted families in what they called “concerted nationwide enforcement operations.”
“They did this in 2016. ICE numbers very clearly show that deportations under Obama-Biden grew as high as 400,000 a year, far more than the 256,000 deportations this year by Trump-Pence. Does Joe Biden need to answer for that?” Tapper asked.
“Oh, Jake, absolutely. Look, let's be honest, and I think there's a lot of issues where Democrats and Republicans, unfortunately, have some responsibility for the problems. We can't, as Democrats, be so partisan to say we were perfect, because we weren't. I think some of that was absolutely a mistake,” de Blasio said.
“In the end, what we needed to have was a very different approach that said, this should be a country for working people, a country where we respect that immigrants come here trying to do well for their family, and that we need a certain number of immigrants in this country to be able to have our economy go forward and work,” he said.
“Instead, I think Democrats have often been scared of their own shadows, listening to what's on FOX News or the attacks coming from Republicans, and responding to them too much. We need to be real blunt about the facts that Democrats made mistakes here, too, and I mentioned there's going to be a moment of truth for Democrats, Jake,” the mayor said.
“You're about to see in the next weeks Democrats are going to decide who we are, and the question is going to be the new NAFTA treaty and if Democrats are complicit with Republicans in passing a NAFTA treaty -- it's got a different name, but it's still NAFTA. It's even worse in some ways. It gives even more power to corporations this time,” de Blasio said.
“If Democrats are so scared to stand up and be progressive and be strong that they can't say out of hand, no NAFTA, no way, a lot of people in this country, a lot of working people, are going to look at that, a lot of middle-class people are going to look at that and say, I can't tell one party from the other, and they're not going to buy into a Democratic Party that seems to be once again just caving to the big corporations, rather than standing up for working people," he said.
“So, on a whole host of issues, I think it's a time of reckoning for the Democratic Party. I think that's what this primary should be about and these debates, the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. Are we really on -- here for working people? Are we really ready to stand up for a different kind of society? Or are Democrats just Republicans-lite? That's the discussion we have to have, and if we're Republicans-lite, Donald Trump is going to get reelected. I, for one, will not stand for that," the mayor said.
When asked whether he thinks it’s the federal government’s job to enforce U.S. borders and to make sure that everyone in the country is here legally, de Blasio said, “Absolutely, Jake, and if we're really going to have a serious conversation in this country about how to do it, then let's do comprehensive immigration reform. Let's have a path to citizenship for 11 or 12 million people who have been here, by the way, Jake, decades.
“I always say, this is the greatest don't ask/don't tell in American history. For decades, we have had millions and millions of undocumented folks, and they're core to our economy at this point, and they're part of our communities. Why don't we just acknowledge that as a country, have that comprehensive reform, give people that pathway to citizenship?
“We can have a guest-worker program. A lot of parts of our country, Iowa, where I have been, folks need more agricultural workers. Why don't we come to grips with this and rationalize this? But, Jake, it comes down to this. What President Trump is doing -- and, again, I will say it clearly. His slogan should be make America hate again, because he's trying to foment division as a political campaign.
“What he's doing with our ICE agents is not about securing our borders. It's basically an electoral effort by President Trump. We could have a rational immigration system. We could have clear border security, and it could be done in a way that actually helps our economy function and creates fairness.
“You don't need this ICE, though. That's the other thing I should say. This ICE, as it's formed now, should be abolished, a new agency created that's not about separating families, but is actually about enforcing the law fairly and evenly.
De Blasio said is not believable on the issue of immigration, because he has been inconsistent.
“The Trump administration says that the undocumented immigrants being targeted in this raid have all been given a final order for removal from a judge. In other words, they have gone through the legal process and been told, you cannot stay here. You have to leave. They have ignored that. What is wrong with the U.S. government enforcing a court order and telling people, as they were told by the courts, you cannot stay?” Tapper asked.
“Because, Jake, unfortunately, the Trump administration is no longer believable on these issues. They said they were going to do immigration enforcement. And what we have seen is so inconsistent. They have gone after folks who had committed no crime, who had no proceeding against them,” said de Blasio.
“There's no rhyme or reason, what they did undermining the asylum process, with family separation, zero tolerance, on, off. They keep changing, just the way President Trump can't make up his mind on so many issues. This is not legal, consistent enforcement,” he said.
“I'm the first to say, in New York City, we have a law -- and I'm proud of it -- that says, if you commit a serious or violent offense, and you're found guilty, and you're here undocumented, you should be deported. I think that's the right way to do it. That is a real process, but there are millions of people -- and this is the honest conversation we need to have -- millions of people that didn't do anything wrong. They have been here a long time, are contributing to our economy. They haven't done anything wrong," the mayor said.
“Trump threatened to deport all them. Look, the bottom line there, Jake, is, I believe he is trying to divide Americans in this manner. If you're an American citizen, and you're middle-class, you're working-class, you're hurting, you're not feeling good about the economy, you're not being able to make ends meet in your family, Trump is trying to get you to think the immigrants did that to you,” he said.
“And I say very bluntly -- I said it at the first debate -- that's not who created misery. If you're an American citizen and you're hurting right now economically, Wall Street did that to you. The big corporations did that to you. The folks who had power put you in that jam, the fact that your income is not growing, the fact your kids are not going to have a better life than you.
“That's not because of some guy who works in the kitchen or works in the fields. That's about the folks in power. And we have to have that discussion in this country, Jake, because, if we do, then we're actually able to go at the root cause of people's challenges. It is not these immigrants, who are just struggling to get by and take care of their family.