DOVER, N.H. — Protesters disrupted Joe Biden‘s first campaign event Friday at the start of his weekend swing through New Hampshire.
Frustrated by immigration policy under the Obama administration, a dozen activists led by national immigration group Movimiento Cosecha derailed Biden’s post-speech meet-and-greet with chants and signs, and called on Biden to apologize for mass deportations that occurred during his time as Barack Obama’s vice president.
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Biden has come under fire for the 3 million deportations that occurred under the Obama administration, and Movimiento Cosecha recently held another protest at the former vice president’s campaign headquarters in Philadelphia.
About a dozen protesters surrounded Biden with signs that read “End all detention. End all deportation on Day 1” and “We haven’t forgotten 3 million deportations.”
The activists who interrupted Biden’s community event also introduced him to a Guatemalan man whose brother had been deported under Obama.
The event was held beside a river, and one protester holding a sign paddled by on a kayak.
“I will not apologize for deportation if the person committed a felony,” Biden told the protesters, as his staff tried to clear a path through protesters and Biden supporters jockeying for selfies, to remove the former vice president from the crowd. “I will apologize for deportations if in fact they deported because, in fact, they were engaged in a misdemeanor and or their family was separated.”
Biden referenced Obama five times during his 40-minute stump speech, but invoking the former president did not quell the immigration protesters.
“The Obama administration wasn’t a great friend to immigration at all,” said protester Shannon Jackson, 17, of Nottingham. “The goal of today’s protest was to hold him accountable. If Mr. Biden does get the nomination or become the president, we want to make sure he won’t repeat what happened during the Obama administration.”
During his earlier stump speech, Biden acknowledged hits he has taken from the party’s left flank. Biden said he’s being “skewered” by the “new Democratic Party,” for working with lawmakers he did not agree with during his time in the Senate, criticism that has followed Biden since he made a comment about working with a segregationist lawmaker he disagreed with in the Senate. Biden also warned that the wide Democratic primary field should not turn into a “circular firing squad.”