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Biden heckled by ‘Abolish ICE’ protesters and teases possible immigration action


President Biden was heckled Thursday by immigration protesters who chanted “Abolish ICE” at a drive-in rally near Atlanta — and he responded that he agrees with some of their grievances.

Two men unfurled an orange banner near Biden’s stage in Duluth, Ga.

“End detention now! End detention now!” one man bellowed.

Biden at first joked, “We’ll give you a microphone.”

“Communities not prisons!” the chant evolved, before turning to “Abolish ICE! Abolish ICE!”

Another person shouted, “End private detention centers now — please!”

Biden told them, “I agree with you, I’m working on it, man. Give me another five days.” He later clarified to reporters he was “teasing them” about that timeframe.

The president added, “Folks, you all know what they’re talking about. There should be no private prisons, period. None, period. That’s what they’re talking about, private detention centers. They should not exist, and we’re working to close all of them.”

As security escorted the men away, Biden said, “Let them go.”

President Joe Biden appeased to protesters calling for the end of private detention centers, saying “There should be no private prisons, period.”
President Joe Biden at his drive-in rally in Duluth, Ga., on April 29, 2021.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

But when the heckling persisted, he added: “I promise, the only thing that’s going to keep me from doing that is you keep moving.”

“We voted for you, too! Our families are dying!” one of the hecklers shouted back.

The protest significantly disrupted the cadence of Biden’s rally celebrating his 100th day in office.

In January, Biden signed an executive order instructing the Department of Justice to end its contracts with private prisons, but the order did not apply to the Department of Homeland Security, which uses private detention centers for illegal immigrants.

The heckling came amid the US-Mexico border crisis caused by a surge in illegal immigration since Biden took office.

One heckler reportedly shouted
One heckler reportedly shouted, “We voted for you, too! Our families are dying!” at President Joe Biden during his drive-in rally in Duluth, Ga.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

There’s at least a 20-year high in illegal US-Mexico border crossings and children are held in cramped, jail-like conditions. Republicans blame Biden’s border policies and legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for almost all illegal immigrants, saying that Biden created new “pull” factors for migration.

The nature of the hecklers’ protest was not immediately clear because Biden also has faced criticism of his legislation in the 1980s and ’90s that sent many people to prison, including for drugs.

Biden spoke in Georgia after a visit with former President Jimmy Carter at his home.

The 100th day drive-in rally was held in the state in part to celebrate a pair of Democratic victories in Jan. 5 runoff elections that flipped control of the Senate, allowing Biden to pursue bolder legislation.

Much of Biden’s speech was a rehash of his Wednesday night address to Congress — including urging passage of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and his $1.8 trillion “families” social spending plan.

President Joe Biden speaks in Duluth, Georgia after visiting former President Jimmy Carter at his home.
President Joe Biden spoke at the rally after visiting former President Jimmy Carter at his home.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Biden plugged his push for renewable energy, telling the parking lot full of idling cars: “There’s no reason where American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and the batteries that propel them. We can do what we need to do and saving the planet and yet create millions of good paying jobs, folks.”

Although the CDC this week said people vaccinated for COVID-19 can go without a face mask outdoors, Biden stood masked on a mostly empty stage as he was introduced by the first lady.

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