Protesters interrupted former Vice President Joe Biden at the Democratic debate Wednesday night, erupting in chants of “3 million deportations” as Biden challenged Julián Castro’s policy to decriminalize crossing the border into the U.S.
Responding to Castro’s plan by first saying that he didn’t hear those plans from Castro when he was Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary, Biden was interrupted by a group of protesters shouting a reference to the nearly 3 million deportations the Obama administration carried out.
Following Biden’s brief pause during the outburst, the national immigrant justice group Movimiento Cosecha claimed credit for the protest on Twitter. The group has also followed Biden on his campaign trail, demanding that he answer to the Obama administration’s deportation record. Earlier this month, six activists with the organization were arrested during a sit-in at the Biden campaign’s Philadelphia headquarters.
“A real apology would be for him to reunify the families he tore apart,” Catalina Santiago, media coordinator at Movimiento Cosecha, told Splinter after another confrontation with Biden. “We won’t accept words without action.”
Following the protest during CNN’s Wednesday night debate, the other 2020 Democrats piled on. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Biden for not responding to the protesters. The former vice president responded by saying the deportations happened under Obama’s leadership, not his, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker argued—quite effectively—that Biden can’t hitch his legacy to Obama only when it’s politically convenient.