Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told an attendee at a South Carolina town hall Thursday evening, "You should vote for Trump," after being criticized for deportations during the Obama administration.
The immigration activist had started off by translating questions asked in Spanish by another attendee, who asked if the former vice president would stop all deportations immediately upon taking office if elected.
Biden responded, "No. I will not stop all deportations. I will prioritize deportations, only people who have committed a felony or serious crime."
The activist, identified by a CNN reporter as Carlos Rojas, later continued by telling Biden he had volunteered for former President Barack Obama's campaign in 2008, but was disheartened by the number of deportations during his presidency.
"The fact is that over those eight years, there were 3 million people that were deported and separated from their families," Rojas said.
Cutting Rojas off, Biden said, "You should vote for Trump. You should vote for Trump."
"No, no. I'm not going to do that," Rojas responded.
“You should vote for Trump,” Joe Biden tells @CosechaMovement protester Carlos Rojas at tonight’s town hall in Greenwood, S.C.
Rojas and other protesters from the group were criticizing Obama-era deportations and asked Biden to say he’d end all deportations — which he rejected. pic.twitter.com/od188WIlrQ
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) November 22, 2019
Biden said that those who commit felonies should be deported. "No matter what happens, somebody who commits murder should be deported."
He continued to say that there will be no family separations under his administration, to which some audience members said "That's a lie."
Crowd members chanted "Not one more deportation," preventing Biden from continuing to speak for several moments.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, another 2020 candidate, commented on Twitter Friday: "Joe Biden may not want the votes of those concerned about immigrant rights, but I do. Join our movement for justice."
Fact check: Did the Obama administration separate families?
The Obama administration is heavily criticized for its high levels of deportations, with the defense that individuals who committed crimes were prioritized for deportation. When asked during a primary debate whether he and Obama had made a mistake, Biden said that comparing their administration to Trump's is "outrageous."
"The president did the best thing that was able to be done at the time," Biden said of Obama, also touting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
In his campaign, Biden is an advocate for immigration reform in the U.S. In a larger conversation about his stances on various issues, Biden has told USA TODAY that he does not support decriminalizing border crossings, as some other 2020 candidates including Sanders do.
"I don’t believe crossing the border should be decriminalized, but unlike the Trump Administration, I will make sure that U.S. immigration law is enforced humanely," Biden said.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden tells immigration activist, 'You should vote for Trump'