Joe Biden on Thursday lamented the deaths of six migrant children while in US custody, saying it's "not who we are" in a statement that mirrors how the former vice president has framed much of his 2020 presidential campaign.
"Over the last year, six children have tragically died in US custody at the border. It's unacceptable. It's not who we are. And silence is complicity," Biden, the front-runner among the Democratic presidential candidates, tweeted. "It's on all of us to stand up and speak out. America is a nation of immigrants. We must guarantee everyone's treated with dignity."
On Wednesday, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said a 10-year-old migrant child died while in the care of the department's Office of Refugee Resettlement in September last year.
The death was not reported publicly for nearly eight months and marks the sixth migrant child known to have recently died while in US custody after traveling to the US and being apprehended by federal authorities.
Biden's comments on the deaths of migrant children echo a common refrain of his presidential campaign, warning that the nation's values are at stake under the current administration.
"If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are and I cannot stand by and watch that happen," Biden said in his campaign announcement video last month. "The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America's at stake."
On the campaign trail, Biden has repeatedly framed the election as a "battle for the soul of the nation," pointing to Trump's response to the clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville and family separations at the border.
"It just didn't happen in Charlottesville. It's happened in Pittsburgh. It's happened in California. It's happening every day and you know deporting dreamers just a few days before their high school graduation and separating children from their parents at the border," Biden said at a rally in Henderson, Nevada earlier this month. "It isn't who we are. We're better than that."