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Joe Biden discusses immigration reform during Las Vegas speech

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a crowd of more than 300 people at Rancho High School on Saturday, describing how he would support Latino issues if elected president.

Biden received a warm reception, with resounding applause in an atrium of the Las Vegas school. He spent much of the event discussing the economic contributions of immigrants, immigration reform and racial tension in the country.

The event was in the form of a Q&A with Héctor Sánchez Barba, leader of Mi Familia Vota and several audience members.

The former vice president addressed several issues during his speech.

Deportation

Barba said he had worked a lot with the Obama Administration and that he and Biden agreed on a lot of issues – except for deportation.

“There was one issue, Mr. Vice President, that we strongly disagreed (on). All the time in the administration was the issue of deportation,” Barba said. “It’s an issue that has been devastating for communities; it’s devastating for families – it’s a painful issue.”

Biden declined to talk about deportation during the Obama administration.

He stressed, however, that, if elected, he was committed to ensuring families stayed together and that ICE agents would not deport people picking up their children from school, going to church or performing other daily activities.

“No one will be deported in my administration who hasn’t committed a felony,” Biden said.

Education

His list of priorities for education includes making sure 3- to 5-year-old children go to school and pushing to triple Title 1 funding for schools with high percentages of low-income students such as Rancho High.

“There are so many things we’re able to do and it drives me nuts that even those people who are xenophobic, they don’t understand it’s in their interest,” he said. “Everybody’s better off. Everybody, rich folks, poor folks. Everybody.”

Cabinet

Pressed by Barba to guarantee four people of Latino descent in his cabinet, Biden declined to make any promises.

“I will not commit to any number of anybody […] and I think that’s an inappropriate thing to ask,” Biden said, while noting he would have “significant representation” in his cabinet.

Asked if he could guarantee immigration reform in the first 100 days in office, Biden again declined to make any commitment.

Reception

Rancho High School students Paola Miramontes and Jennifer Molina, who will be casting their first votes for president in November, said Biden’s appearance at the predominantly Hispanic high school showed he cared for their community.

“The people know he’s trying,” Miramontes said. “It showed a lot of encouragement.”

Molina said she wished he had talked more about issues such as his stance on climate change and on the current situation with Iran. She and Miramontes said they were also concerned about censorship on social media platforms and foreign countries using the sites to influence American elections.

Molina also said she wished he had talked more about his stance on current issues — such as the recent Iranian conflict.

Keith Schipper, the Nevada communications director for Trump, criticized Biden on the foreign policy front. “Joe Biden is a foreign policy failure that would put our national security at risk. Nevadans know that the world is safer thanks to President Trump and his leadership in the fight to end global terrorism,” Schipper said in an email.

Ten months before the presidential election, Molina and Miramontes said they don’t know who they will vote for yet.

“We’ve been keeping up with the candidates and have not decided yet,” Molina said.

Contact Alex Chhith at achhith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0290.

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