Main menu

U.S. 2020: Joe Biden on the Issues That Affect Latin America

Joe Biden on the 2020 campaign trail


March 10, 2020

After a strong showing on Super Tuesday on March 3 and several candidates suspending their campaigns, former Obama Vice President Joe Biden leads the delegate count and national polls in the Democratic nomination for president ahead of U.S. general elections on November 3. Biden is now competing for delegates against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders ahead of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which will take place July 13–16 in Milwaukee in the swing state of Wisconsin. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is the one other remaining candidate.

Biden served as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations during his six terms as senator from Delaware. As vice president, he led U.S. policy toward Latin America on a range of issues. This is his third presidential bid. Here’s a look at his positions on climate change, immigration, security, trade, and Venezuela, as well as notable statements on regional issues during the campaign.

Climate change

  • Biden said his administration would rejoin the Paris Agreement and will lead an initiative for all signatories to “ramp up the ambition” of their own national climate goals by making them clear and realistic.
  • In his climate plan, Biden proposes an investment strategy focused on clean energy and sustainable infrastructure to drive innovation “from Canada to Chile.”
  • Per that strategy, he backs better-integrated power grids from Mexico through Central America to Colombia supplied by clean energy.
  • In the Caribbean and the Northern Triangle, he says he would promote clean energy transitions and climate change adaptation related to rising sea levels, severe weather patterns like hurricanes, and continuous drought in places such as eastern Guatemala.
  • Biden supports the Green New Deal.


  • Biden would end the Trump administration’s Migration Protection Protocols policy, otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, which requires asylum seekers to wait out their court dates on Mexican soil.
  • Biden has vowed to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and review Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs. Biden’s platform states that TPS holders “who have been in the country for an extended period of time and built lives” in the United States will be offered a path to citizenship. TPS holders include citizens from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua. 
  • Biden supports passing legislation to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who register with authorities, are up-to-date on their taxes, and pass background checks. He would allow cities and counties to petition for additional visas to support economic development. 
  • He would increase the U.S. annual global refugee admissions cap sevenfold to 125,000 from the 2020 fiscal year limit of 18,000, to slightly above the highest Obama cap of 110,000. 
  • Biden proposes setting aside a four-year, $4-billion aid package for Central America, making the aid dependent on factors, including reductions in gang and gender-based violence, improvements in education, and the implementation of anti-corruption measures. 
  • His platform does not include funding for extending existing border fencing, though it’s unclear where he stands on the issue. 



  • Biden advocates for enforcing existing trade laws while writing “the rules of the road for international trade” in a way that protects workers, the environment, and labor standards. In the first Democratic debate of 2020, Biden said his administration would not sign any trade agreements “without environmentalists at the table.”
  • He’s also stated that if Washington doesn’t take charge of global trade policy, Beijing will. Biden also says he will get support from U.S. allies to challenge China on unfair trade practices.
  • Some of his rivals who are trade skeptics attack Biden on his free-trade track record, which includes voting in support of NAFTA when he was a Delaware senator and backing the TPP as part of the Obama administration. When asked last year whether he was a free trader, Biden responded that he is “a fair trader.”
  • Biden voiced support for the USMCA, saying that, “The vast majority of the labor movement supported it.”


  • Biden pledges to extend Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, to Venezuelans who’ve fled the humanitarian crisis, which he says is “brought on by the Maduro regime.”
  • He supports “stronger multilateral sanctions” against individual chavista operatives who are stashing assets in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.
  • Biden called for support of Guaidó on February 9, 2019, two weeks after the latter assumed the interim presidency of Venezuela.
  • He calls Maduro a “tyrant” and recognizes that the de facto president uses dialogue as a stalling tactic. Biden has called on Maduro to step down and allow for a democratic transition via elections.

Notable statements

  • In November, Biden tweeted that he was “deeply concerned” about the imprisonment of Cuban human rights leader José Daniel Ferrer.
  • Biden criticized Sanders’ approach to Cuba during the February 25 debate, as well as the Vermont senator’s claim that his statements were similar to those of President Obama.
  • The two-term Obama vice president supports normalizing relations with Cuba.
  • As president, Biden proposes holding a global summit to “galvanize significant new country commitments” on three issues: the anti-corruption fight, defending against authoritarianism (including election security), and advancing human rights.
  • He pledges to “rebuild” the U.S. State Department, as well as “strong hemispheric ties” when the United States hosts the 2021 Summit of the Americas.