Trump Distorts Biden-Sanders Unity task force proposals in Rose Garden speech

President Trump held a news conference on Tuesday that turned into an attack on his political rival Joe Biden. He is pictured here from a May speech in the Rose Garden. (Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump used a Rose Garden press conference Tuesday to exaggerate recently released policy recommendations from the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force.

Six topic-specific task forces were formed in May to shore up support for presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden after Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, in order to avoid a splintering of the party ahead of the November general election. Its members include Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Pramila Jayapal, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and other prominent and popular members of the Democratic party.

The task force published 110 pages of recommendations on July 8. Biden’s campaign said the candidate will review it before the Democratic National Convention next month. Although Trump called it Biden’s “unity platform,” they are not official policy proposals from the Biden campaign.

Trump highlighted specific policies from the task force document, but many of them were inaccurate or overstated.

The claim: “Abolish immigration detention. No more detention. You come in here illegally, no more detention.”

The facts: The document states that “detention should be a last resort, not the default.” It calls for an end to for-profit immigration detention centers, where over 70% of detained immigrants are held.

The claim: “Stop all deportation. So if we get a MS-13 gang member, which we’ve taken out of our country by the thousands — brought them back to Honduras, Guatemala — can’t do that anymore — El Salvador. Can’t do that anymore. Stop all deportations.”

The facts: The task force recommended a 100-day moratorium on deportations “while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP.” They also suggest ending community and workplace raids that lead to deportations and protecting places such as schools, places of worship, DMVs, and health care offices from immigration enforcement actions. Pathways to citizenship and asylum are a main sentiment in the immigration portion of the document. Trump has made the claim about deporting thousands of MS-13 gang members before, and it’s tough to verify because immigration officials do not typically break down deportation data by gang affiliation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 400 MS-13 members in Fiscal Year 2019.

The claim: “Well, basically, as you know, what they’re going to do is they’re going to rip down the wall. They’re taking it down.”

The facts: The task force called the wall on the southern border “unnecessary, wasteful, and ineffective,” but did not call for it to be torn down. They did recommend ending the National Emergency Trump issued that unlocks federal funds for border barrier construction.

The claim: “Sign new immigrants up for welfare immediately. This is Joe Biden. So they walk off, and they come in, and they put a foot into our land, and we sign up new immigrants up for welfare. We sign them up immediately. They get welfare benefits.”

The facts: The task force recommended lifting the five-year waiting period for “lawfully present” immigrants to access Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The claim: “Abolish educational standards.”

The facts: The task force recommends an elimination of “high stakes standardized tests that unfairly label students.” They recommend programs like the New York Performance Standards Consortium, the International Baccalaureate, and gradespan testing as alternative forms of assessment. They go on to suggest reducing “the loss of learning time due to excessive testing, and prioritize assessments and diagnostics that provide teachers the information they need.”

The claim: “They want to abolish our police departments.”

The facts: The document outlines suggestions for various police reforms, including a ban on chokeholds, the creation of a national standard on use of force, the establishment of a corps of unarmed first responders, a restriction on police departments’ use of military weapons, increasing de-escalation training, and efforts to hire officers that reflect diversity in the community.

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