Senator Cory Booker Unveils Immigration Plan

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks at the North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) 2019 legislative conference in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019 (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas).

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently revealed a plan to address the immigration and border crisis if he is elected president.The 2020 presidential hopeful said he would begin his plan on day one of his presidency and would use his executive authority to treat immigrants and refugees with dignity, address the causes of the migration and refugee crisis, and roll back the Trump administration’s policies on immigration.

Booker’s plan will order the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to require that all detention facilities will “meet civil detention facilities to meet the civil detention standards of the American Bar Association's Civil Immigration Detention Standards.” It will also require facilities hosting children to meet the required standards of the American Academy of Pediatrics or face closure.“Cory would also increase accountability and transparency for detention facilities beginning on Day One, including directing DHS to permit access for independent experts and monitors to [Customs and Border Protection] facilities, improve the inspections process, require random spot checks of detention facilities, and the prompt investigation of and published reports on all deaths of immigrants in its custody,” the plan states.

The New Jersey senator’s plan is also calling to “virtually eliminate” the use of for-profit detention facilities. In his plan, Booker states that 65 percent of people are being held in facilities that are being run by for-profit prison corporations. The White House hopeful states that if he is elected, he would direct DHS to stop contracting with private prison facilities and use non-profit alternatives in an effort to “virtually eliminate immigration detention.”

“When kids are being stripped away from their parents and held in cages, I will not wait for Congress to solve this crisis,” Booker said in a statement to The North Star. “On day one of my presidency, I will take immediate steps to end this administration’s moral vandalism."

“And although there are limits on what we can do to reverse the damage that has already been done to the lives of thousands and to communities across our country, we can put an end to the horror, and turn the page to a new chapter of our history,” Booker’s statement continued. “Our country must have an immigration system that reflects our values, not one that strips dignity away from people fleeing danger, threats, and violence.”Booker’s plan states that he will also ensure to end the “inhumane conditions and overcrowding” at the detention facilities. He states that he would abide by the Flores Agreement and make sure unaccompanied migrant children who are being held at the facilities would “receive the best care and support during their time in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody, including access to medical, social service, and child welfare professionals, and speedy reunification with their relative or sponsor.”

The Democratic presidential candidate’s plan comes as multiple reports address the horrific conditions migrants are facing inside detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border. On June 28, US District Judge Dolly Gee asked US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to allow medical professionals to enter detention centers to improve the sanitation and conditions at the facilities. On June 26, a group of lawyers filed a temporary restraining order with Gee against the federal government for the unsanitary conditions at the facilities, the Los Angeles Times previously reported.

“The conditions within which [children] are held could be compared to torture facilities,” wrote Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier, a doctor who visited one of the facilities, according to the publication. “That is, extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.” Booker is not the only presidential candidate who has rolled out an immigration plan. Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro unveiled his immigration plan earlier in April and called for giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, to fix the visa system and roll back Trump’s Muslim and Refugee Ban.

The former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary said in a previous interview with The New Yorker that he comes from a family of migrants, noting that his grandmother, who came to the US when she was seven-years-old, raised his mother by herself.“She worked very hard,” Castro told the publication. “It was this classic American Dream story.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.