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Pro-Trump Super PAC Edits Biden’s Past Comment About Deportations

This article is available in both English and Español

Para leer en español, vea esta traducción de El Tiempo Latino.

While talking about illegal immigration at a town hall in 2020, Joe Biden, then a Democratic presidential candidate, said that if he were elected, “nobody is going to be deported in my first 100 days.”

But a TV ad from a super PAC supporting former President Donald Trump features a clip of Biden only saying “nobody is going to be deported,” falsely suggesting that Biden promised his administration would never deport anyone who was in the U.S. illegally.

The 30-second ad from MAGA Inc. began airing in Pennsylvania on May 1, according to AdImpact, a political ad tracking service.

The super PAC’s ad starts with Tony Dokoupil, a host of “CBS Mornings,” saying that Biden encouraged asylum seekers to come to the U.S. — which Biden did, as a candidate. But the ad ends with Biden saying there would be no deportations if he were president – which he did not say.

The super PAC has produced at least one other ad — which ran on digital platforms in late March — featuring the same deceptively truncated Biden quote about deportations.

Here’s a fuller transcript of Biden’s remarks during that February 2020 CNN town hall while answering an audience member’s question about raids carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Biden, Feb. 20, 2020: We have a right to protect the border. But the idea — and by the way, nobody — and some of you are going to get mad at me with this – but nobody is going to be deported in my first 100 days until we get through the point that we find out the only rationale for deportation will be whether or not — whether or not you’ve committed a felony while in the country.

A month later, Biden clarified his awkwardly worded statement about the “only rationale for deportation” being “whether or not you’ve committed a felony while in the country.” During a March 2020 debate for Democratic presidential candidates, Biden said: “Number two, the first hundred 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.”

In both cases, Biden said the proposed moratorium on all deportations was only for his first 100 days as president — not his entire presidency, as the edited clip in the ads would lead viewers to believe.

What’s more, when Biden took office in January 2021, the policy that his Department of Homeland Security planned to implement for the first 100 days said that DHS would still deport some people regardless.

A memorandum issued on Jan. 20, 2021, by then acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske said the 100-day pause on deportations of individuals with final removal orders would not apply to anyone who “has engaged in or is suspected of terrorism or espionage, or otherwise poses a danger” to U.S. national security. The pause also excluded anyone who was not already in the U.S. on Nov. 1, 2020, those who voluntarily waived their rights to remain in the country, and anyone who the acting director of ICE determined had to be removed under federal law.

In addition, the document said that “nothing in this memorandum prohibits the apprehension or detention of individuals unlawfully in the United States who are not identified as priorities herein.”

The policy was short-lived, anyway. It ended up being challenged in court almost immediately and was first blocked for 14 days by a federal judge in Texas on Jan. 26, 2021. The same judge indefinitely blocked the policy on Feb. 24.

Ultimately, the Biden administration would go on to deport hundreds of thousands of people — and more than just those with felony convictions in the U.S.

In fiscal year 2021, which included more than three months when Trump was still president, DHS recorded 85,783 “removals,” which the department defines as “the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable noncitizen out of the United States based on an order of removal.” That figure increased to 108,733 in fiscal 2022, Biden’s first full fiscal cycle, according to the most recent “Yearbook of Immigration Statistics” published by DHS.

There were at least 142,580 additional removals in fiscal 2023, according to ICE’s annual report published in December.

And those figures do not include all of the “returns” of inadmissible or deportable people who agreed to voluntarily leave the U.S. before officially being ordered to do so. Also not included are people who were quickly expelled from the country under Title 42, a federal public health order that was invoked, starting in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In all, there were more than 2.8 million removals, returns and expulsions in just fiscal years 2021 and 2022, according to the most recent annual data published by DHS.

But the MAGA Inc. ad ignores those facts, in addition to turning Biden’s stated proposal for a 100-day pause on deportations into an indefinite policy.

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