December 11, 2019 / 5:07 PM / 2 months ago

Biden immigration plan includes more foreign aid, no border wall

(Reuters) - Former vice president and Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled proposals that include new protections for immigrants and increased foreign aid that he would pursue as president, drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting, during his "No Malarkey!" campaign bus tour at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, U.S., December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The policy plans distributed by Biden’s campaign do not include funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border championed by Trump.

Biden, who is seeking his party’s nomination to face Republican Trump in the November 2020 election, would increase the number of refugees allowed into the United States, bolster resources for dealing with asylum cases and stop separating parents from their children at the border.

Democrats fault Trump’s approach on those policies, as well as for his signature campaign promise for the border wall. Biden promised to instead fund better screening technology at the border.

Biden also would propose a $4 billion package of assistance to Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which have been a source of large numbers of asylum seekers at U.S. ports of entry.

The new proposals come as Biden, 77, seeks to build a broad base of support that includes immigrants and racial minorities.

On Wednesday, he is campaigning in Las Vegas, which has a relatively large immigrant and Latino population. Nevada on Feb. 22 will be the third state to hold its Democratic presidential nominating contest, with Biden facing 14 Democratic rivals.

Some of Biden’s rivals and activists have criticized the Obama administration’s immigration record that included large numbers of deportations when Biden served as vice president.

Biden’s proposals include restoring protections against deportation for about 661,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were children. Trump has moved to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that provided those protections, but he has been blocked by courts so far.

Biden also promised to protect a class of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status because of natural disaster, armed conflict or other extraordinary event from being sent back to unsafe places.

The Trump administration has tried to end some of those protections, saying most countries in the program have recovered from the related disasters. That issue is also subject of a court battle.

For millions of undocumented immigrants without special status, Biden promised to work with Congress to pass legislation setting out a path to citizenship, a decades-long aspiration for presidents in both parties.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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