At the VICE News “Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum” this week, former Vice President Joe Biden said “drunk driving should not be a felony,” and immigration agents who detain illegal immigrants caught driving drunk should be fired.
Biden’s position puts him at odds with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and with advocates for tougher punishment of DUIs in New Hampshire.
Ending illegal-immigrant deportations has emerged as top priority for progressives voting in the Democratic primary. Biden has struggled to navigate the issue in the wake of Obama/Biden administration policy of holding illegal immigrant children in cages at the U.S.-Mexico border. Progressives have also labeled President Obama the “Deporter-In-Chief” for the number of would-be illegal immigrants detained and turned back at the border.
Biden has tried to change the momentum on the immigration issue by proposing a “path to citizenship” for all 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. He also said during a Democratic debate that he wants his expanded free government healthcare plan to cover illegal immigrants.
During the forum, Biden said he would not detain people who come to the United States illegally “behind bars” — which presumably means he would not detain illegal immigrants at all. He would instead rely on ankle bracelets, allowing immigrants to travel freely across the country while they await a hearing.
However, Biden is unwilling to join the progressives who want to eliminate the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency entirely, saying he wants to change the culture instead. How?
“You change the culture by saying you are going to get fired. You are fired if, in fact, you do that,” Biden said at the forum. “You only arrest for the purpose of dealing with a felony that’s committed, and I don’t count drunk driving as a felony.”
Currently, every state treats multiple drunk driving offenses as a felony, but often not until the driver has committed at least four offenses. MADD wants to see those laws toughened. They also reject Biden’s suggestion that a driver’s immigration status should be taken into account by law enforcement.
In a statement to NHJournal, MADD said: “Drunk driving is the Number 1 killer on America’s roads and a violent crime that MADD believes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of the offender’s immigration status. Drunk driving laws differ by state, and the fact that only four states charge a felony for a non-injury second drunk driving offense illustrates the enormous challenge MADD faces in helping to pass laws that will eliminate the horrible tragedies caused by drunk driving. In all drunk driving cases, MADD supports the victims and their wishes in the prosecution and sentencing of offenders who kill or injure someone.”
In 2018 alone, the illegal immigrants ICE arrested had a total of more than 80,000 DUI arrests or convictions among them.
Interestingly, Biden has been criticized for repeatedly–and falsely–claiming that the 1972 car accident that killed his wife and infant daughter was caused by a drunk driver. Biden has since called the family of the driver and apologized.