Vice President Joe Biden said Central American nations are in America’s front yard, and the United States must pass amnesty legislation for illegal immigrants to show those nations respect and that America has changed.
After discussing his travels to Latin America and South America at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on Thursday evening, Biden said, “The single most significant thing we can do to fundamentally change the relationship in terms of trust and commitment is to pass immigration reform.”
“It’s why we have to pass immigration reform here in the United States,” he said. “It’s one thing to say we respect the rest of the Americas, the majority of which are Hispanic. But it’s another thing to say I respect them and yet not respect the immigrant population that’s the Hispanic community of the United States. It does not connect.”
Nearly 66,500 illegal immigrant juveniles, nearly all of whom are from Central America, have been detained at the border since October of last year. This week, the White House announced that it would grant asylum to certain individuals in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and set up in-country processing facilities for applications. And President Barack Obama told Hispanic leaders on Thursday that he would enact his executive amnesty before the end of the year.
Biden, who has asked Central American leaders to tell their citizens that amnesty does not await in the United States to deter migrants from making the harrowing journey to America, implied that U.S. should give amnesty to those already here, once again sending a mixed message on the issue.
“Because respecting immigrants from the Americas is part of how we show that we really have changed our view, that South and Central America is no longer our back yard; it is our front yard,” Biden said. “It is our partner. The relationship is changing. And when it changes fully, the benefits for us are astounding.”