Trump says millions of immigrants are criminals. Biden says he's lying

The first presidential debate of 2024 featured former President Trump’s usual assertions on immigrants, calling them criminals and saying mental asylums were being emptied in foreign countries for people to come here.

President Biden pushed back, calling Trump’s statements lies and “malarkey.” Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the U.S., studies show.

Trump, echoing comments he makes at his rallies, accused Biden of supporting open borders. “I’d love to ask him: why he allowed millions of people to come in here from prisons, jails and mental institutions to come into our country, and destroy our country,” Trump said.

“These killers are coming into our country. They are raping and killing women. It’s a terrible thing,” Trump said later.

Biden responded: “That’s simply not true. There’s no data to support what he said. Once again, he’s exaggerating. He’s lying.”

Trump tried to frame the border as a free-for-all and chaotic, and Biden pointed out that under Trump, children were being separated from their families after crossing the border.

“When he was president, he was taking, separating babies from their mothers, putting them in cages, making sure that families are separated,” Biden said. “That’s not the right way to go.”

This month, the Biden administration raised the legal standard for asylum claims and restricted access to asylum for those crossing the border illegally when arrests average higher than 2,500 a day, as has been common.

Biden noted that congressional Republicans, at Trump’s urging, scuttled a sweeping bill that would have beefed up border security and revamped immigration policies. Trump did that, he said, because he wanted to make immigration a campaign issue rather than address the problems on the southern border.

Biden also said border crossings are trending downward. After record-high arrests at the end of last year, Border Patrol said preliminary data since Biden’s announcement showed arrests had fallen by 40%. May figures show arrests fell to the third lowest of any month throughout his presidency.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that agents recovered 895 remains of migrants in fiscal year 2022, three times as many as were discovered in 2018. Advocates say the number is a vast undercount.

Trump has called for the mass deportation of immigrants in the country without authorization. He was asked how he would achieve that and whether such a policy would apply to the spouses of legal residents. He never directly answered the question, reiterating his claims about immigrants coming into the country.

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