Joe Biden

2020 Presumptive Democratic Nominee for President of the United States | Former U.S. Vice President | Former U.S. Senator from Delaware

Joe Biden, the former vice president serving under President Barack Obama and a former longtime U.S. senator, is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

The quintessential establishment candidate, Biden is an avowed moderate who touts his centrist credentials as an asset in reaching across the aisle to work successfully with Republican lawmakers. On matters of immigration policy, Biden is in fact to the right of his former rivals for the Democratic nomination for president: He has stood strong on the Obama administration’s record number of deportations, he has refused to join fellow Democratic candidates in supporting a repeal of the statute that criminalizes border crossings, and he has said that he would give Trump a wall (if it added to national security) in exchange for saving DACA.

A U.S. senator from the state of Delaware from 1973 until he assumed the vice presidency in 2009, Biden has a long record on immigration and immigration-related policy.

He was an early and strong supporter of NAFTA, saying he wanted to prioritize “fair trade over free trade.” While Biden has hedged on his support of the agreement more recently — “I think that back in the time during the Clinton administration, it made sense at the moment” — he has not changed his position on the matter. Biden has, however, been critical of USMCA, the revised NAFTA agreement negotiated by the Trump administration, saying that it doesn’t do enough to ensure that “protections for the rights of our workers are enforced.”

As a senator, Biden voted for the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which authorized and funded construction of nearly 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border and has remained an advocate for strong border security.

And during his 2008 run for the Democratic nomination for president, he drew attention for calling for a ban of sanctuary cities. The issue has come up frequently for Biden because the sanctuary cities movement began as a response to three million people being deported during the Obama administration. While he has more recently criticized President Trump’s crackdown on sanctuary cities, he has not indicated that his opposition to sanctuary cities has changed.



  • Border Security

    Biden voted for the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which provided funding for increased border security, including the construction of new fencing. The plan he released as a 2020 presidential candidate calls for improved technology at and between ports of entry, including cameras, sensors, large-scale x-ray machines, and fixed towers.

  • Border Wall

    While he has been critical of President Trump’s rhetoric on building a wall, Biden voted for the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which erected 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The immigration plan he released as a 2020 presidential candidate calls for “ending the so-called national emergency that siphons federal dollars from the Department of Defense to build a wall,” saying “a wall will do little to deter criminals and cartels seeking to exploit our borders.”

  • Detention

    While he voted for the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which provided increased funding for the incarceration of undocumented immigrants, Biden more recently has said he supports ending immigrant detention: “Close them down,” he said at a South Carolina town hall in August 2019, “we don’t need them.” He has voiced support for alternatives to detention such as community-based case management programs, “including those supported by faith-based organizations such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, to move migrants into safe environments as quickly as possible."

  • Immigration Courts

    Biden proposes doubling the number of immigration judges, court staff, and interpreters to support timely and fair adjudication of asylum and other immigration cases. As of the beginning of 2020, there is a backlog of one million immigration cases, resulting in prolonged detentions and applicants waiting years for their cases to be heard.

  • Undocumented Population

    Biden has pledged to create a pathway to citizenship for “undocumented immigrants already strengthening our communities,” and has vowed to prioritize deportations to focus only on those who have committed a felony or other serious crime.

  • ICE

    Biden supports the independent oversight of ICE and an expansion of training and transparency, and pushes back strongly on the proposal to dismantle the agency altogether.

  • DACA

    Biden supports the DREAM Act and a pathway to citizenship for everyone enrolled in the DACA program.

  • Asylum

    Biden has proposed increasing the annual number of refugees accepted into the U.S., from the current cap of 18,000, to 125,000 and will seek to raise it over time so that it is commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.

  • Central America Policy

    Biden has called for “systematic change” in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. He headed the Obama administration's efforts to secure bipartisan support for a $750-million aid package to these countries. As a 2020 presidential candidate, Biden has proposed a four-year, $4-billion package of assistance for the region, with aid linked to governments delivering measurable reductions in gang and gender-based violence, improvements in legal and educational systems, and implementation of anti-corruption measures.

  • Visas

    Biden supports guest-worker programs in general and is open to increasing the number of foreign work visas that the U.S. issues every year, but he wants to promote mechanisms to temporarily reduce the number of visas during times of high U.S. unemployment. Biden will support a program allowing any chief executive of a large or midsize county or city to petition for additional immigrant visas to support its economic development strategy, provided employers in those regions certify that there are available jobs and that there are no workers to fill them. Holders of these visas would be required to work and reside in the city or county that petitioned for them, and would be subject to the same certification protections as other employment-based immigrants. Biden has supported jailing employers who hire undocumented workers or abuse the visa program.