Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey and a candidate for president, said Tuesday he would “virtually eliminate” all immigration detention were he elected to the nation’s highest office as part of a major overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security, The Hill reported.
In a plan posted to his campaign website, the Booker campaign said as president, Booker would aim to treat all “immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers with dignity.”
Much of the New Jersey senator’s plan involves dismantling Trump administration policies, including the president’s decision to roll back Obama-era protections for individuals called Dreamers, and Trump’s travel ban from Muslim-majority nations. The plan details Booker’s intent to make things easier for refugees and asylum seekers by removing barriers to asylum, allowing more refugees and increasing the number of individuals assigned to review cases of asylum.
Notably, Booker said if elected he would begin to enact his plan without the help of Congress and said he would act on his first day in office using executive action.
The Booker campaign said that Booker would require all immigrant detention facilities in the United States to comply with the American Bar Association’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards, which aim to limit immigration detention. The campaign also said it would force facilities that house children to adopt standards recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The campaign said Booker would require independent examinations of the detention facilities to make sure standards are met.
“He will fight for a system that recognizes that immigrants make our country stronger and that we need each other to move our country forward,” Booker’s campaign website said. “Cory will fight for the passage of legislation in Congress that reforms our immigration system and provides earned citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living and working with us as our colleagues, neighbors, and friends.”
The New Jersey senator’s plan would also require DHS to phase out its relationship with for-profit detention companies and instead would adopt “evidence-based non-profit alternatives to detention,” which would only be used as a last resort, according to the campaign.
Booker’s announced plan comes at a time when immigration detention centers are at the forefront of political debate nationally. Several Democrat representatives, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Kennedy, Rashida Tlaib, and Madeleine Dean, spent much of Monday sharing on Twitter their experiences visiting immigration detention facilities in Texas.
The Hill noted that not many other 2020 candidates have unveiled comprehensive plans for immigration reform. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced plans to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Obama-era Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said he planned to decriminalize border crossings if elected.