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Joe Biden on Immigration

Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


FactCheck: 67% of illegal aliens speak Spanish; not 40%

Bidenís discussion of his search for a nanny years ago led him into trouble. Biden said, ďMost of the illegals that came to seek a job with me, they did not speak Spanish. They were from Ireland, England. They were from Germany. They were from Poland. The majority of the people here undocumented--60%--are not Spanish speaking.Ē Chris Dodd jumped in and confirmed that most illegals are, in fact, Spanish speakers. Biden wisely deferred to Dodd.

In fact, Mexico was the country of birth of 57% of the estimated 11.55 million unauthorized immigrants in 2006. Add in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras--all Spanish-speaking countries--and it jumps to 67%. Youíd have to go back many decades to get to a time when the majority of undocumented immigrants were Britons, Germans, Irish and Poles.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

H1-B visas only for jobs Americans canít do

Q: What would you do as president: Expand H1-B visas or scale them back?

A: I have been working with this for a long time, as former chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Thatís where it comes out of. We have it about right now, except that the employers arenít doing their part. Theyíve got to offer the job. If thereís an American there who will take the job, they canít undercut it by hiring an Indian engineer who will work for less; thatís illegal. Weíre not enforcing it.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

Americans will do any job if you pay them properly

Q: Do you believe in this debate over immigration that weíre talking about jobs that Americans wonít do?

A: Letís get it straight. Americans will do any job if you pay them properly. That doesnít mean we donít need guest workers; we do. But we should base the number of guest workers upon need--not an absolute number. And we should require employers to offer those jobs to citizens to see if they want those jobs. We need agricultural workers; we need H1B visas; we need what in fact exists as a need, not as an artificial number to allow employers to drive down wages.

Q: Does hiring illegal immigrants to do these jobs drive down wages?

A: [Yes, it] drives down wages. But there are a lot of people who will go out and hang drywall and get a decent wage. There are not a lot of people who are going out and do the agricultural work thatís seasonal. So it should be based on need.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum , Dec 1, 2007

Oppose granting driverís licenses to illegal immigrants

Q: In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, do you support driverís licenses for illegal immigrants?

A: No.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada , Nov 15, 2007

Supported Bush plan: both border fence & path to citizenship

Biden supports the Bush immigration plan, with both its ďamnestyĒ for existing undocumented residents and its big border fence to keep new ones out.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.180 , Nov 11, 2007

2007: Immigration reform failed because McCain absent

In May 2007, McCain had been largely AWOL from the immigration negotiations all year, after previously serving as the deal's lead Republican champion. (As the Washington Post reported the following week, McCain had missed half that year's Senate votes, including all 45 votes since April 15.") A couple months earlier, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., a friend of McCain's, said that he thought immigration reform was doomed for the year precisely because of McCain's missing leadership. For the Arizona senator it was the worst of all possible worlds: his efforts to get something done about a pressing national problem was being help up on what he considered to be a niggling detail; his absent leadership was (rightly) being called into question; and although he was no longer the Republican face on the deal--he'd sloughed that thankless duty off on his state-mate John Kyl--he was still being hammered in the conservative media and the polls over the deeply unpopular "amnesty" bill.
Source: The Myth of a Maverick, by Matt Welch, p.109 , Oct 9, 2007

Sanctuary cities exist because feds canít enforce their laws

Q: Would you allow ďsanctuary citiesĒ to ignore the federal law and provide sanctuary to these immigrants?

A: The reason that cities ignore the federal law is the fact that there is no funding at the federal level to provide for the kind of enforcement at the federal level you need. This administrationís been fundamentally derelict in not funding any of the requirements that are needed even to enforce the existing law.

Q: So would you allow those cities to ignore the federal law?

A: No.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

Itís impractical to deport 14 million illegal immigrants

There doesnít need to be a 700-mile fence, 14 million illegals -- now you tell me how many buses, car loads, planes that are going to go out, round up all these people, spend hundreds of millions of billions of dollars for the whole world watching, while we send these folks back. Rather than get a background check on all of them, take out the criminals, get them back, and provide for a means by which we allow earned citizenship over the next decade or so.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Voted for border fence, but to tackle drug trafficking

I voted for the [Mexican border] fence was that was the only alternative that was there, and I voted for the fence related to drugs. You can -- a fence will stop 20 kilos of cocaine coming through that fence. It will not stop someone climbing over it or around it. But this bill has a much more reasonable provision in it. It has much shorter fence, it does have the Border Patrol requirement, and it is designed not just to deal with illegals; itís designed -- a serious drug trafficking problem we have.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Voted YES on continuing federal funds for declared "sanctuary cities".

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To create a reserve fund to ensure that Federal assistance does not go to sanctuary cities that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists. This vote is a motion to table the amendment; voting YES would kill the amendment.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. VITTER: There are so-called sanctuary cities which establish as an official policy of their jurisdiction: We are not going to cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement officials. That is wrong. What is more, it is completely contrary to Federal immigration law. My amendment says: We are going to put some consequence to that defiance of Federal law. We are not going to give them COPS funds. We are going to send those funds, instead, to all of those other jurisdictions which abide by Federal law.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. DURBIN: There are sanctuary cities in about 23 different States across America. What the Vitter amendment will do is to take away the COPS funding from those cities. Police departments will tell you they need the cooperation of everyone to solve crimes and stop crime. If you create fear in the minds of those who are here in an undocumented status that any cooperation with the police will result in their arrest, they will not cooperate and criminals will go free. Let's not use the COPS Program as some sort of threat. If you want to deal with immigration, deal with it responsibly in a comprehensive way. SUPPORTER'S RESPONSE:Sen. VITTER: If folks feel that way, they should come to Congress and change Federal law, not simply defy Federal law. This is another amnesty vote. Are we going to give folks in sanctuary cities amnesty for defying Federal law and refusing to cooperate with Federal immigration officials? LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Motion to Table Agreed to, 58-40

Reference: Bill Table S.Amdt.4309 to S.Con.Res ; vote number 08-S069 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted YES on comprehensive immigration reform.

    Establishes specified benchmarks which must be met before the guest worker and legalization programs may be initiated:
  1. operational control of the border with Mexico;
  2. Border Patrol increases;
  3. border barriers, including vehicle barriers, fencing, radar, and aerial vehicles;
  4. detention capacity for illegal aliens apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border;
  5. workplace enforcement, including an electronic employment verification system; and
  6. Z-visa alien processing.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

If we do not legislate now, we will not legislate later this year when our calendar is crowded with Iraq and appropriations bills. We are then an election year, and it will be pushed over to 2009. Circumstances will not be better then, they will be worse.

A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill. A Senator may vote for cloture and then express himself in opposition to the bill by voting against the bill.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

If this bill becomes law, we will see only a 13% reduction in illegal immigration into America, and in the next 20 years we will have another 8.7 million illegals in our country. How can that be reformed? I submit this would be a disaster.

The Congressional telephone systems have shut down because of the mass phone calls Congress is receiving. A decent respect for the views of the American people says let's stop here now. Let's go back to the drawing board and come up with a bill that will work.

The American people get it, and they do have common sense and wisdom on this issue. They know repeating the fundamental mistakes of the 1986 bill, joining a big amnesty with inadequate enforcement, will cause the problem to grow and not diminish. They know promising enforcement after 30 years of broken promises isn't good enough. They know the so-called trigger is a joke because if the trigger is never pulled, the Z visas, the amnesty happens forever.

Reference: McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill; Bill S.1639 ; vote number 2007-235 on Jun 28, 2007

Voted NO on declaring English as the official language of the US government.

Voting YES would declare English as the national language of the Government of the US. Unless specifically provided by statute, no person would have an entitlement to have the Government of the US communicate or provide materials in any language other than English. If an exception is made with respect to the use of a language other than English, the exception does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language. If any form is issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English, the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes. Nothing in this amendment shall prohibit the use of a language other than English.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Right now, the polling shows that 91% of the people in America want English as an official language, and 76% of Hispanics believe English should be an official language.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I believe the American people understand in order to succeed in our society, immigrants need to learn English. But the amendment would do a number of things that are problematical. The first is that it is contrary to the provisions of law that exist in many States. For example, in New Mexico, you have in their State Constitution, a provision that says that many of the documents within that State have to be provided in both English and Spanish. The same thing is true for the State of Hawaii. I believe this is a States rights issue, and those constitutions of those States ought to be respected. I do not believe it is a matter we ought to be imposing here from Washington DC.

Also, this amendment would undo an executive order conceived by President Bill Clinton and implemented by President George Bush. Both recognized it is important that people who have limited English proficiency receive the kinds of services so they can understand what is going on in terms of the interface between the Government and themselves.

Reference: National Language Amendment Act; Bill S.Amdt.1151 to S.1348 ; vote number 2007-198 on Jun 6, 2007

Voted YES on eliminating the "Y" nonimmigrant guestworker program.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This legislation says we wish to add something called guest workers or temporary workers. With guest workers, working Americans would discover there is no opportunity for upward mobility at their job. In fact, every day their employers are trying to find ways to push down wages, eliminate retirement, and eliminate health care. What has happened in this country, with what is called the "new global economy," is dramatic downward pressure on income for American workers. The guest worker program provides that 400,000 people will be able to come in to assume jobs in our country per year--adding to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

I certainly concur about the need to secure our borders, about the need to have a workable immigration system, and the need for reform that ensures the rule of law is restored in the US. Where I differ is in the belief that we can actually achieve these goals if we have no ability for temporary workers to come to the country. This amendment would eliminate the temporary worker program from this bill.

Now, there are several reasons why a temporary worker program, within certain constraints, is a good idea. The first reason is because it will help to relieve the magnet for illegal immigration. The reason most of the people are crossing our border illegally is to get employment. There are jobs available for them. Some people say this is work Americans will not do. That is actually not true. But there are not enough American citizens to do all of the work that needs to be done. So naturally the law of supply and demand sets in here. People come across the border illegally, and they take that work. What we want to do is both close the border, but also eliminate the magnet for illegal employment here, because the reality is desperate people will always try to find some way to get into the country.

Reference: Dorgan Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.1153 on S.1348 ; vote number 2007-174 on May 22, 2007

Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border.

Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:
  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of Within 18 months, achieves operational control over U.S. land and maritime borders, including:

  1. systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology; and
  2. physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry
Defines "operational control" as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, narcotics, and other contraband.

Proponents support voting YES because:

It is obvious there is no more defining issue in our Nation today than stopping illegal immigration. The most basic obligation of any government is to secure the Nation's borders. One issue in which there appears to be a consensus between the Senate and the House is on the issue of building a secure fence. So rather than wait until comprehensive legislation is enacted, we should move forward on targeted legislation which is effective and meaningful. The legislation today provides over 700 miles of

Reference: Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061 ; vote number 2006-262 on Sep 29, 2006

Voted YES on establishing a Guest Worker program.

Reference: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S. 2611 ; vote number 2006-157 on May 25, 2006

Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security.

Voting YEA would table (kill) the proposed amendment to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security benefits. Voting NAY supports that prohibition, while voting YEA supports immigrants participating in Social Security. Text of amendment:
To reduce document fraud, prevent identity theft, and preserve the integrity of the Social Security system, by ensuring that persons who receive an adjustment of status under this bill are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.
Reference: Preclusion of Social Security Credits; Bill S.Amdt.3985 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-130 on May 18, 2006

Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship.

This amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act would prohibit H-2C nonimmigrants ("Guest Workers") from adjusting to lawful permanent resident status. Voting YEA on the motion to table (which would kill the amendment) indicates supporting a path to citizenship for guest workers. Voting NAY on the motion indicates opposing any path to citizenship. The amendment says:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, an alien having nonimmigrant status is ineligible for and may not apply for adjustment of status.''
Reference: Kyl Amendment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act; Bill S.Amdt.3969 to S.2611 ; vote number 2006-135 on May 18, 2006

Voted YES on allowing more foreign workers into the US for farm work.

Vote to create a national registry containing names of U.S. workers who want to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work, and to require the Attorney General to allow more foreign workers into the U.S. for farm work under H-2A visas.
Reference: Bill S.2260 ; vote number 1998-233 on Jul 23, 1998

Voted NO on visas for skilled workers.

This bill expanded the Visa program for skilled workers.
Status: Bill Passed Y)78; N)20; NV)2
Reference: The American Competitiveness Act; Bill S. 1723 ; vote number 1998-141 on May 18, 1998

Voted NO on limit welfare for immigrants.

This amendment would have restored food stamp benefits to the children of legal immigrants
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)59; N)41
Reference: Motion to table Kennedy Amdt #429; Bill S.947 ; vote number 1997-111 on Jun 24, 1997

Rated 8% by USBC, indicating an open-border stance.

Biden scores 8% by USBC on immigration issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 USBC scores as follows:

About USBC (from their website, www.usbc.org):

U.S. Border Control, founded in 1988, is a non-profit, tax-exempt, citizen's lobby. USBC is dedicated to ending illegal immigration by securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration policies. USBC [works with] Congressmen to stop amnesty; seal our borders against terrorism and illegal immigration; and, preserve our nation's language, culture and American way of life for future generations.

Our organization accepts no financial support from any branch of government. All our support comes from concerned citizens who appreciate the work we are doing to seal our borders against drugs, disease, illegal migration and terrorism and wish to preserve our nation's language, culture and heritage for the next generations.

Source: USBC website 06n-USBC on Dec 31, 2006

Other candidates on Immigration: Joe Biden on other issues:
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Page last updated: Sep 19, 2014