Biden: Immigrants Must ‘Learn to Speak English’

By Jennifer Parker

Dec 28, 2007 9:28am

ABC News’ Brian Wheeler reports: Senator Joe Biden, D-Del., had a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with a crowd of about 200 Thursday night in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

He covered the news of the day in Pakistan, but the curious crowd, which included a number of undecided voters, wanted also to ask about trade, immigration, prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the influence of money in American politics, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Biden also described at length the origins of Al Qaeda as well as his plan for Iraqi federalism.

Voters also prodded the Senator for additional details about his proposed domestic agenda. One attendee, who said she has never voted for a Democrat, asked what he would do about immigration.

"You’ve got to hold employers who knowingly hire illegals, and they do it to drive down wages in most cases, you’ve got to hold them criminally responsible," Biden said to applause.

Biden also said illegal immigrants must "demonstrate they had a job, were paying taxes, they were paying into the social security system, and they had paid their back taxes," he said, "And you require them all like every other generation to have to learn to speak English."

A self-described "Tancredo Republican" who asked Biden about immigration, told ABC News after the event she had boiled her choices down to either Biden or former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.

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