US Presidential Hopeful Booker Vows to ‘Virtually Eliminate Immigrant Detention’

REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker would “virtually eliminate immigration detention” if elected, his campaign said on Tuesday, including ending the use of for-profit detention facilities and sharply limiting the time unaccompanied children spend in custody.

As president, Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, plans to phase out contracts with private prison operators, shut down facilities that do not meet high standards of care, and reform the bond system in immigration court by prioritizing liberty for immigrants rather than detention.

Booker, 50, is among some two dozen Democrats seeking the Democratic nomination to take on U.S. President Donald Trump in next year’s election.

Trump has made clamping down on illegal immigration the centerpiece of his domestic policy agenda. He has railed against Central American migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico – many of whom are seeking refuge under U.S. asylum laws – and has sought to build a wall along vast portions of the southern border with Mexico.

But U.S. agencies have struggled to keep up with a surge of Central American families arriving at the border, straining resources and severely overcrowding facilities. Last week, lawyers asked a federal judge to intervene after they detailed several instances in which children were held in unsanitary, unsafe conditions.

In addition to targeting detention centers, Booker’s immigration plan would reverse the Trump administration’s decision to end protections for so-called “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review Trump’s decision next year. The program has remained in place pending court action.

Booker also would do away with a number of Trump administration rules intended to restrict asylum claims and refugees, including Trump’s entry ban for several Muslim-majority countries and a requirement that asylum seekers remain in Mexico until their U.S. court hearing, his campaign said.

The plan also calls for providing legal counsel to all immigrants. Currently, around two-thirds of immigrants face deportation proceedings without a lawyer, the campaign said.

Several other Democratic contenders have released their own immigration plans, including former Secretary of Housing Julian Castro, U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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Robyn Vasile
Guest
Robyn Vasile

Great idea! Close the detention centers and send them all back to where they came from. Secure the borders so we will never need the centers again.

Phyllis Softa
Member

BEFORE shutting down detention centers come up with the SOLUTION to the problem. REINSTATE the aid to Central America. HIRE more immigration judges to process the asylum requests. UNDO the damage Trump has done to exacerbate the problem. The House has the votes to pass the 2013 Immigration bill without the Freedom Caucus obstruction. Leave the fantasy solutions to those who believe in fantasy.

Phyllis Softa
Member

25 Candidates and I have it narrowed down to 4 who could conceivably come up with and institute a plan to MAKE AMERICA SANE AGAIN. Corey did not make the cut. D’s the idea is not to come up with ideas that are as wacky as Trump or Bernie’s. This is not a reality show. This is the real thing. The sanity of the country is at stake.

James
Member

Good idea, Booker. Take a few hundred home with you and take care of them.

Another pathetic excuse for an obstructionist “politician” running to be the POTUS. What a joke!

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