Has Joe Biden decided to launch his own version of an apology tour? After a fairly straightforward observation in the last debate that immigration requires going through a process and patience for others who got there first, his campaign is “quietly playing cleanup,” Politico reports today. Biden himself had to meet with “aggrieved activists” to apologize for using the term “get in line” to describe, er … getting in line.
Strange new respect for the British phrase queueing?
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is quietly playing cleanup with dozens of immigration activists and Latino leaders — weeks after upsetting them by using what they considered loaded language to describe his views on immigration policy.
Biden said at the July 31 Democratic debate that undocumented immigrants need to “get in line” and that the country has been right to “cherry-pick” high-skilled immigrants, notably those with advanced degrees.
That language, more commonly used by conservatives, triggered widespread criticism from immigrant rights activists, some of whom said the former vice president was echoing “Republican talking points” on how migrants are admitted to the United States.
The campaign quickly embarked on damage control. Aides assuaged aggrieved activists, and Biden had a closed-door meeting with Latino leaders in San Diego before his speech at the UnidosUS conference last week.
What triggered the outrage? This relatively innocuous response from Biden in the July 31 debate in Detroit seems to have offended people who may not be aware that wait lists exist for legal immigration. Biden was answering criticisms from both Kirsten Gillibrand and Julián Castro over immigration policy, with Biden testily noting that Castro didn’t raise any complaints over the Barack Obama era enforcement policies when Castro was in Obama’s Cabinet:
BIDEN: The fact is what the senator from New York talked about is seeking asylum. That woman, the women she spoke to are entitled to asylum. That is not crossing the border illegally. What we should do is flood the zone to make sure we have people to make those decisions quickly.
With regard to — with regard to the secretary’s point, I already proposed and passed $750 million for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, to be able to change the circumstance why people fled in the first place.
In addition to that, we’re in a circumstance where if in fact you say you can just cross the border, what do you say to all those people around the world who in fact want the same thing to come to the United States and make their case, that they don’t — that they have to wait in line. The fact of the matter is, you should be able to — if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It’s a crime. It’s a crime, and it’s not one that in fact…
In other words, Biden says, those who want to come across illegally are impacting those who are taking the time and effort to comply with US immigration laws. After Castro objects to this by claiming that border crossing is a “civil action” (it’s not — it’s a misdemeanor on first offense and felony for repeat violations), Biden makes the point even more strongly:
BIDEN: I have guts enough to say his plan doesn’t make sense. Here’s the deal. The fact of the matter is that, in fact, when people cross the border illegally, it is illegal to do it unless they’re seeking asylum. People should have to get in line. That’s the problem. And the only reason this particular part of the law is being abused is because of Donald Trump. We should defeat Donald Trump and end this practice.
What exactly was offensive about this? Immigration requires a process of approval. Government processes take time, even short ones, and require at least some waiting time and an orderly process based on first-come, first-served in most instances. We have to get in line to get past TSA at the airport. We get in line at the DMV for drivers licenses. We even have to get in line to get passports and visas to get out of the country. Try just pushing your way through any of those processes and see how far you get. You’ll hear “get in line” screamed at you in one form or another, if not physically restrained and potentially prosecuted. Why should it shock people that they have to take turns to get into the country, or that the consequences of failing to “get in line” would be any different?
The only way — the only possible way — that this is offensive is if people believe that everyone else is (a) entitled to enter the US at any time and any way they wish, and (b) the US has no say in that matter under any conditions. The only reason to believe that Biden owes people an apology for stating the obvious reality in simple terms is if they utterly reject the idea that immigration should involve the government or approval at all. The fact that Team Biden thinks that an apology is owed is a measure of just how far the open-borders mentality goes in the Democratic Party.