Biden walks back ‘illegal’ comment, talks abortion in new interview

Mr Biden said an Israeli invasion of Rafah would be a ‘red line’ for him

Graig Graziosi
Sunday 10 March 2024 17:12 GMT
Related video: Joe Biden speaks at Atlanta rally

Joe Biden walked back his use of the term "illegal" when describing an undocumented migrant and doubled-down on his belief that the Supreme Court was wrong in its 2022 abortion access ruling during a recent interview.

Mr Biden sat down with MSNBC's "The Sunday Show" for a rare, wide-ranging interview just days after he gave the State of the Union address.

He refused to back down on his belief that the Supreme Court fumbled its 2022 Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health ruling.

“I think [the Supreme Court] made a wrong decision. I think they read the Constitution wrong. I think they made a mistake,” Mr Biden said.

Mr Biden said he found the Supreme Court's observation that women can vote to change the laws in their individual states if they want access to abortion services to be "insulting" and referenced it during his speech.

“They used the phrase that women can vote making change, if they want to,” Mr Biden said. “I found that somewhat insulting, the idea that they don’t think [women] can. Women are speaking now. They spoke out in 2022. They spoke out in 2024 — 2020. This is what’s going to happen. And I was just making clear, women speak up. This is going to change.”

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, on March 7, 2024 (AP)

During his State of the Union address, Mr Biden told the Justices that "with all due respect, justices ... you're about to realize just how much you got right [about women's ability to make change through voting]."

The president took a lashing of his own after he referred to an undocumented migrant as an "illegal" during the address. He told MSNBC that he regretted using that term.

“An undocumented person. And I shouldn’t have used ‘illegal.’ It’s ‘undocumented,’” Mr Biden said when asked about his use of the term.

When asked directly if he regretted using "illegal," Mr Biden said "yes."

The president was referring to Jos Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan who has previously been arrested by federal officers after crossing into the US. He has been charged with killing Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student.

Ms Riley's death has been weaponised by the GOP — in particular Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene — who was decked out in pins and a shirt ostensibly memorialising the student. The right is using her death as a way to stoke fears about migrants in order to push their immigration agenda.

Marjorie Taylor Greene at the State of the Union 2024 (AP)

During Mr Trump's rally in Georgia, Ms Greene pointed out that "even Joe Biden" was forced to "tell the truth" and use the word "illegal" to describe Mr Ibarra.

Mr Biden insisted during his interview that he does not share Mr Trump's view that undocumented migrants are "vermin" and are "polluting the blood" of the nation.

“I don’t share [Trump’s] view at all,” he said, noting that immigrants "built the country" and "are the reason our economy is growing."

He also said the US needed to control its border and ensure that there was a "more orderly flow" of migrants into the country.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Biden was asked if he had a "red line" when it came to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Host Jonathan Capehart asked if an invasion of Rafah — where millions of Palestinians are sheltering after being driven from their homes by the IDF — would be a red line for him.

“It is a red line," Mr Biden said, adding, “But I’m never gonna leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical.”

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