Ramos added nuance and perspective to his questions on the immigration issue, especially when he questioned former vice president Joe Biden, the front-runner in the race.CHALLENGING BIDEN
"We've been hearing a lot about what's been happening here in Texas. Only a few weeks ago, the deadliest massacre of Latinos in modern US history happened in this state, in El Paso. So the fear among Latinos -- and you know this -- is very real," said the moderator. He continued:
"So let me start with an issue that is causing a lot of division in this country: immigration. Vice President Biden, as a presidential candidate, in 2008, you supported the border wall, saying, "Unlike most Democrats, I voted for 700 miles of fence." This is what you said. Then you served as vice president in an administration that deported 3 million people, the most ever in US history. Did you do anything to prevent those deportations? I mean, you've been asked this question before and refused to answer, so let me try once again. Are you prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations? Why should Latinos trust you?"
Biden replied as he did through much of the evening with a slurry of notions in search of an answer. "What Latinos should look at is -- comparing this president to the president we have is outrageous, number one," he sputtered.
"We didn't lock people up in cages. We didn't separate families. We didn't do all of those things, number one. Number two -- number two, by the time -- this is a president who came along with the DACA program. No one had ever done that before. This is the president that sent legislation to the desk saying he wants to find a pathway for the 11 million undocumented in the United States of America. This is a president who's done a great deal. So I'm proud to have served with him..."
He concluded by noting that "the 25th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act is up."
"Yeah," replied Ramos, "but you didn't answer the question."
"Well," said Biden, "I did answer the question."
"No," replied Ramos, "did you make a mistake with those deportations?"
Biden went back to talking about President Obama. "The president did the best thing that was able to be done at the time," he said.
"How about you?" asked Ramos.
"I'm the vice president of the United States," answered Biden, which was no answer at all.
Ramos had had enough. "Secretary Castro," he said, "would you want to respond to Vice President Biden?"CASTRO DIGS IN
"Jorge, thank you very much for that question," said an obviously delighted Julia'n Castro. "And, look, I agree that Barack Obama was very different from Donald Trump. Donald Trump has a dark heart when it comes to immigrants. He built his whole political career so far on scapegoating and fear-mongering and otherizing migrants, and that's very different from Barack Obama."
Then Castro, who was having an excellent night, let rip: "But my problem with Vice President Biden -- and Cory pointed this out last time -- is every time something good about Barack Obama comes up, he says, 'oh, I was there, I was there, I was there, that's me, too,' and then every time somebody questions part of the administration that we were both part of, he says, 'well, that was the president.' I mean, he wants to take credit for Obama's work, but not have to answer to any questions."
Biden responded by saying, again and again, "That's not what I said. That's not what I said..."