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Biden on Univision: Deporting 3 million 'was a big mistake'

Biden on Univision: Deporting 3 million 'was a big mistake'
© Greg Nash

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Florida heat sends a dozen Trump rally attendees to hospital Harris more often the target of online misinformation than Pence: report MORE said the fact that the Obama administration deported 3 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom had no criminal records, “was a big mistake.”

“We took far too long to get it right,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a Friday interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos in Henderson, Nevada. 

Biden said the administration did not begin to “get it right” with regard to immigration until after its first term. The former vice president also did dispute that the administration deported more people than any administration before them as well as the Trump administration, though that fact has been widely reported on since he and Obama left office. 

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“The point is there were too many,” he conceded. “I saw the pain in the eyes of so many people who saw their families being deported. I know what it’s like to lose family members. It was painful.” 

Biden pivoted to touting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which the Obama administration put into place in 2012 after years of extreme pressure from immigrant rights groups.

DACA allows qualifying young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for two-year work permits and receive protection from deportation. 

“It wasn’t until 2012 that we began to get it right with the DACA program and trying very much in 2014 to expand that and moving in the right direction,” Biden said.

Ramos asked Biden if he would introduce immigration reform legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants promptly after assuming office like Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states Oct. 29: Where Trump and Biden will be campaigning MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren has expressed interest in being Biden's Treasury secretary: report The Democrats' 50 state strategy never reached rural America What a Biden administration should look like MORE (D-Mass.) have proposed. 

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“I already have the bill,” Biden said, saying he’d get it done in the first week.

Biden, like most candidates in the Democratic primary, has said he’d immediately overturn the “Remain in Mexico” policy implemented during the Trump administration. 

The interview, which will air Sunday on Univision “Al Punto,” comes a week before the Nevada caucuses, a nominating contest that is seen by many as the first test of how the Democratic primary candidates fair among people of color, particularly Latinos, who make up almost 30 percent of Nevada’s population. 

A poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed Biden polling at 18 percent in Nevada, which holds its caucuses on Feb. 22.