Top Latina adviser quits Biden campaign

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE's top Latina adviser quit his 2020 campaign last week amid discontent over the front-runner's positions on immigration.

National Coalitions Director Vanessa Cárdenas has updated her Twitter bio to read, "formerly with @joebiden," Politico first reported.

Cárdenas did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her resignation.


Her departure comes as Biden and other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have come under increased scrutiny from Hispanic leaders who say they have not paid enough attention to Latino voters.

Biden in particular has irritated many Latinos for his stance on certain immigration issues, including a refusal to call for a moratorium on deportations.

Fellow White House hopefuls Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Democratic tensions will only get worse as left loses patience McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats Socially-distanced 'action figure' photo of G7 leaders goes viral MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMcConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats Mark Cuban: ProPublica 'not being honest' about taxes on wealthy On The Money: Bipartisan Senate group rules out tax hikes on infrastructure | New report reignites push for wealth tax MORE (D-Mass.) have said they would impose a moratorium on deportations while conducting a review of President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE's immigration policies.

At a South Carolina town hall Thursday, Biden lost patience with Carlos Rojas, a protester who demanded the former vice president commit to stopping all deportations if elected president.

"I will not stop all deportations. If you have a, if you commit a crime, that's a felony," Biden said, before being interrupted by other protesters.

Biden then asked Rojas what he would do with a noncitizen murderer.

Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration policy for the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund, explained why Biden's rhetoric angers people who bear the brunt of U.S. immigration policy on a daily basis.

"A candidate should be expected to show the same empathy and understanding toward a family facing the constant fear of separation that they should with a family that's scared of having their kid shot at school or losing medical care," said Jawetz.

A person with knowledge of Biden's thinking told The Hill "he can't say all deportations will stop. His point about what to do about a murderer is valid."

"Plus he's said he wants to end private detention and actually not hold folks in detention," the person added.

Biden's tenure in the Obama administration has been criticized by the communities most affected by immigration enforcement.

Under Obama, a promise to put the White House's weight behind comprehensive immigration reform in the first term was scrapped in favor of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The administration also amped up enforcement, ultimately deporting more than 2 million people over eight years.

But in his first term, Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected from deportation nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors.

"A lot of Biden's entire candidacy is trying to run on legacy of the Obama administration. On immigration, that's a mixed legacy," said Jawetz. "If he can't acknowledge and talk about that, it's impossible for him to own the good parts of the policy that came at the middle and end of the administration."

Biden's presidential campaign has focused in large part on South Carolina, where the state's African American population is expected to hand Biden an early-voting victory. South Carolina is third in the nominating process after Iowa and New Hampshire.

After South Carolina, the primary contest will shift to Nevada, a state where Democrats leveraged demographic shifts, due in large part to Hispanic immigration, to win statewide races.

Biden on Monday was endorsed by Rep. Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusShakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats House Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department MORE, a popular and powerful Nevada Democrat.

But the focus on other early-nominating states reportedly played a role in Cárdenas's resignation.

“The campaign is just hyper-focused on whites in Iowa and African Americans and it placed less value on Latino outreach,” an immigration activist close to Cárdenas told Politico.

The Biden campaign was among the first to hire big-name Hispanic political operators, such as senior adviser Cristóbal Alex, the former president of the Latino Victory Project, and outreach director Laura Jiménez. Both are still with the campaign.

Updated at 7:17 p.m.