Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders also say immigrants in the country illegally must feel safe to seek testing and treatment for the coronavirus.
Joe Biden committed to halting deportations of nearly all immigrants in the country illegally. The former vice president said Sunday at the Democratic debate that he would place a moratorium on deportations in the first 100 days of his administration and then would only look to deport people convicted of felonies.
“It’s about uniting families,” he said. “It’s about making sure we can both be a nation of immigrants as well as a nation that is decent.”
Biden has faced criticism over the 3 million people deported during the Obama administration.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had previously agreed to put a stop to deportations “until a thorough audit of current and past practices and policies is complete,” his website states.
“They’re an important part of our agricultural economy, our construction economy. These are good people and yet they’re living in terror,” Sanders said. “And we’ve got to end that terror and end the ICE raids and move toward a path toward citizenship,” he added, referencing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The two Democratic presidential candidates also agreed that they would ensure people who are in the country illegally feel comfortable going to the doctor if they are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus.
Biden said anyone who goes to the doctor for coronavirus symptoms should not be reported.
“There are certain things you cannot report an undocumented alien for — an undocumented person for,” Biden said, correcting himself. “And that would be one of them. We want that. It’s in the interest of everyone.”
Sanders noted that his “Medicare for all” plan was criticized for including medical coverage for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
“Right now we have the absurd situation where undocumented people who try to do the right thing — they’re sick, they want to go to the doctor, they don’t want to spread this disease — are now standing, thinking about whether ICE is going to deport them,” he said. “One of the things that we have to do is make sure that everybody feels comfortable getting the healthcare that they need. That should be a general principle above and beyond the coronavirus.”