Vice President Joe Biden wants comprehensive reform and the DREAM Act.
As vice president, Joe Biden often has taken the lead in arguing the Obama administration’s positions on immigration issues.
In January 2012, Biden spoke to a group of college students in Reno, Nev., and told them that the administration is committed to pushing passage of DREAM Act legislation that will allow the children of undocumented immigrants to pay reduced, in-state tuition rates.
“The president and I are absolutely, positively, foursquare, for the DREAM Act,” Biden said. “It makes no sense not to educate everyone in this country who is here with a college degree.”
Biden’s wife, Jill, the United States’ “second lady,” is a longtime educator who has taught at several colleges, most recently at Northern Virginia Community College. The Bidens have been outspoken in their belief that a college education should be within reach of all U.S. residents.
Biden often has made the argument that it makes no sense to deny children of undocumented immigrants an education because of the violations of their parents. He also has made the economic argument that, with an education, these youths could become productive members of U.S. society who pay taxes and contribute to the economy.
Echoing the sentiments of President Obama, Biden believes passing the DREAM Act should be part of comprehensive reform that makes broad changes to U.S. immigration policy.
“Our immigration system is broken,” he has said often. “This is a federal responsibility we have not lived up to.”
While acknowledging that Congress and the federal government have failed at reforming the system, Biden does not believe states have the right to go forward and write their own immigration laws. The vice president has been a vocal critic of the hardline immigration laws passed by Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and a half-dozen other states.
In a May 2010 speech in Phoenix, Ariz., Biden criticized Arizona’s State Bill 1070 as divisive, ill-advised and an unconstitutional over-reach by the state legislature.
He said the law will “only increase fear, suspicion and intolerance.” He warned that it is sure to promote profiling and lead to the arrests of people “just because of the way they look.”
The Obama administration has challenged the Arizona law and Alabama’s in the courts. Among the most controversial provisions of the laws are those giving local police broad powers to stop and arrest people merely on the suspicion they are in the country illegally. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Arizona’s law by the summer of 2012.
Biden says the federal government has to do a better job securing the border with Mexico. But he says it’s unrealistic to think that a 2,000-mile border can be totally secured with fencing and technology.
He believes border security also has to be part of comprehensive reform that includes a guest worker program to allow migrants to come into the United States legally, work and then return home.
“There doesn’t need to be a 700-mile fence,” Biden said during a 2007 Democratic presidential debate when he was a candidate for the highest office. “Fourteen 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 dollar.”
Instead of unrealistic mass deportations, Biden says reform should include a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants living in the country. The administration supports a plan that would allow these immigrants to remain here legally if they clear background checks, pay back taxes and learn English.
Immigration is part of Biden’s ancestry. His maternal grandparents were born in western Ireland and migrated to the United States in the mid-19th century.
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