Carlos Rojas Rodriguez made headlines in 2019 when a question about the Obama administration’s immigration record received a blunt response from then-candidate Joe Biden.
Standing next to an immigrant mother and local activist named Silvia in Greenwood, South Carolina, Rodriguez translated her question to Biden. Silvia remarked that she worried about Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting her family next, and she was concerned about Biden’s defense of the Obama administration’s deportation campaigns. When Silvia asked Biden if he would implement a moratorium on deportations on day one, he responded “No,” and defended deportations for individuals with criminal records.
Rodriguez, however, chimed back in, this time with his own thoughts and concerns as a formerly undocumented person, reminding Biden that millions of families were separated under his administration.
In video of the encounter, audience members could be heard yelling “Give him a mic!” asking for Biden’s team to give Rodriguez a mic to ask his follow-up. Biden, roaming down the school gymnasium to address Rodriguez, squarely told him: “You should vote for Trump,” and proceeds to turn his back and walk away as Rodriguez says, “No, I am not going to do that. But I want to make sure that immigrant families and people like Silvia are not afraid.”
“I wanted to make it clear to the public, to Biden, who was a presidential candidate then that if he were to become president at the time, that he has both legislative and also administrative actions that he can do, going through the executive branch, and also obviously through the legislative branch,” Rodriguez told Business Insider of his exchange with now President-elect Biden. (And to some extent, with the recently-announced 100-day freeze on deportations, it seems that Rodriguez’s message resonated.)
Biden eventually called the 3 million deportations, 1.7 million of which were of people with no criminal record “a big mistake,” during a February 2020 interview with Telemundo.
By Azmi Haroun for BUSINESS INSIDER
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