Sen. Booker Crosses Into Mexico to Help Escort Asylum-Seekers to US

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 4, 2019 Updated: July 4, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) crossed the border into Mexico to accompany five female asylum-seekers into the United States on July 3.

The Democratic presidential candidate’s trip comes at a time when the crisis at the border has garnered significant attention due to the influx of illegal immigrants in recent months, and conflicting reports on the conditions in Border Patrol detention facilities.

Booker, who visited the port of entry in El Paso, Texas, said he joined immigrant rights attorneys and advocates to venture into Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to help escort Cuban and Honduran women, who he said were fleeing sexual violence and attacks.

“These women had really horrific stories. They are survivors of sexual violence. They are survivors of attacks and are being preyed upon. They have legitimate fears about the kind of just unconscionable things that are going on and are happening to them,” Booker told reporters during a press conference.

The New Jersey senator also took the opportunity to blame President Donald Trump for the humanitarian crisis at the border and criticize the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP)—a policy that sends asylum-seekers back to Mexico while they wait for a court to process their claims.

The policy was enacted at the beginning of the year as an attempt to curb the flow of meritless asylum claims and stop thousands of illegal immigrants from being released into the country while they wait for a court hearing, often never to be seen again. In June, a deal between the United States and Mexico to address the unprecedented surge of illegal immigration stated that the MPP would be expanded across the entire southern border.

“And what this policy that we have is doing is pushing people who are already vulnerable, who are already targeted, back into a dangerous situation,” Booker said, adding that the five women should not be subject to its enforcement.

Las Americas attorney Linda Rivas told El Paso Times that all five women were subjected to the MPP and they plan to claim fear of returning to Juárez.

Booker said he will try to ensure that the women are “fairly evaluated.” He said: “We’re going to follow them all the way through that process. They’re legitimate and they should be allowed entry.”

The senator has recently revealed his immigration plan that would undo most of Trump’s immigration agenda.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has repeatedly warned that the influx of family units from Central America in recent months has overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities and resources and created a humanitarian crisis. In May, Border Patrol agents detained more than 144,000 people crossing from Mexico—the highest level in more than a decade, according to CBP data.

Earlier this week, several Democratic Congress members who visited a number of immigration detention centers at the border laid a series of claims about the condition and treatment of detainees at the facilities. Many of these claims were disputed by border officials, agents, and nonpartisan visitors to the facilities.

While addressing the claims, Trump criticized the Democratic lawmakers for mischaracterizing the situation in the facilities, saying that the crux of the problem needs to be resolved through stronger immigration laws.

“Our Border Patrol people are not hospital workers, doctors or nurses. The Democrats bad Immigration Laws, which could be easily fixed, are the problem. Great job by Border Patrol, above and beyond,” Trump posted on Twitter on July 3. “Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions.”

“No matter how good things actually look, even if perfect, the Democrat visitors will act shocked & aghast at how terrible things are. Just Pols. If they really want to fix them, change the Immigration Laws and Loopholes. So easy to do!” he continued.

“Now, if you really want to fix the Crisis at the Southern Border, both humanitarian and otherwise, tell migrants not to come into our country unless they are willing to do so legally, and hopefully through a system based on Merit. This way we have no problems at all!”

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.