Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, poses for a ‘selfie’ photograph with attendees during a campaign stop in Henderson, Nevada, U.S. (Photographer: Joe Buglewicz/Bloomberg)

Biden Rips Trump on Immigration as He Moves Campaign to Nevada

(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden promised to end the deportation of veterans who aren’t U.S. citizens if he’s elected president, making one of his first forays into immigration policy since launching his campaign last month.

“Anybody who’s fought for the United States of America should not be in a position to be deported,” the former vice president said in response to a shouted question from a Marine Corps veteran Tuesday at a campaign rally just outside Las Vegas.

The event, at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Henderson, was Biden’s sole public appearance during his inaugural trip to Nevada as a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination. He’s campaigning with a frontrunner’s comfort -- and caution -- as he’s traveled to early caucus and primary states -- checking off boxes on issues important to local voters, meeting with party and union leaders and appearing before important donors.

President Donald Trump’s hard line on immigration has been a source of fierce debate and a a prime target of criticism from Democrats. Although not directly a part of White House policy, several high-profile deportations of non-U.S. citizens who served in the military, some who had committing crimes after being discharged, have heightened the emotional tenor of the argument.

Biden also delivered a broader critique of Trump’s immigration policies, referring to the uncertain status of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and to the Trump administration’s past policy of separating minors from their families.

“Deporting dreamers just a few days before their high school graduation, separating children from their parents on the border. That isn’t who we are. We’re better than that,” he said, leaning into his belief that Trump is an “aberration” in American history and not a reflection of the country as a whole.

“The reason I mention immigration is not really because I’m here in Nevada, and you understand it more than most states,” but because it’s an example of Trump’s “demonization” of certain groups of people, he said.

Biden also held a closed-press meeting with immigration activists, according to posts on his Instagram account. “He listened to our immigrant family stories and we look forward to some of the solutions that he’s going to be presenting,” Astrid Silva, executive director of Dream Big Nevada, said in a video posted by the Biden campaign.

Immigration is a major issue in Nevada, where 17 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic. That is the biggest proportion among the first four nominating contests that begin in Iowa next February.

Last weekend, while campaigning in South Carolina, where the Democratic electorate is heavily African American, Biden made sure to bring up voting rights, a sign of his efforts to tailor his standard stump speech to the state he’s visiting.

With high name recognition and a solid lead in polls, Biden has kept his campaign schedule light as he hits early primary and caucus states.

In Iowa, Biden, 76, spent time over two days in a total of five cities and towns -- Beto O’Rourke did more than that in his first day of campaigning in the state. In his trips this week to the early-voting states of South Carolina and Nevada, Biden visited only one media market in each state and held only a single public event, along with one fundraiser.

While in Nevada, Biden also is attending a fundraiser hosted by MGM Resorts International Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren before heading to California for more fundraising.

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