In night two of the second Democratic debate, former Vice President Joe Biden argued that the chief problem with our immigration system is who the president is, not the powers he or she has.
"When people cross the border illegally, it is illegal to do it unless they're seeking asylum. People should have to get in line," said Biden in a testy exchange, pushing back on some other candidates' proposals to decriminalize all border crossings. "That's the problem. And the only reason this particular part of the law is being abused is because of Donald Trump. We should defeat Donald Trump and end this practice."
In short, Biden was arguing that the powers the government has to arrest and detain migrants are fine; they've just been entrusted to someone who has used them to punish the wrong people.
His campaign thought it such a profound point that they quickly retweeted a version of his remarks.
Donald Trump is the problem with our immigration policy. He's using family separation as a weapon against desperate people seeking safety and a better life.
We need to defeat Donald Trump. #DemDebate
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 1, 2019
The argument being made is central to the former vice president's campaign, which has sought to portray Trump as a unique evil that only Biden will be able to excise. It's a pitch that treats the current powers of the president as essentially benign; it's the person that matters.