Cory Booker

Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey | Former 2020 Democratic Candidate for President

Despite his early departure from the 2020 presidential race, U.S. Senator Cory Booker remains a very popular figure in the Democratic Party. Add to that his position on the Senate Subcommittee for Border Security and Immigration and Booker emerges as an influential voice in the national conversation on immigration policy.

Regarding immigration, Booker’s policy proposals have mostly focused on protecting so-called sanctuary cities and greatly reducing the use of immigrant detention facilities.

In April of 2019, he sponsored the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which would enable thousands more immigrants a month to seek release in the short term and radically restrict detention capacity over the course of a few years.

In 2016, he supported the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, which would have significantly overhauled the immigration court system to require unaccompanied minors in the system to have representation, created a case management pilot project to increase court appearance rates, and required the Department of Homeland Security to submit reports to Congress on the number of detained immigrants represented by counsel and the number of such immigrants who received legal orientation presentations. The bill would also have required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Attorney General to establish procedures to ensure legal orientation programs are available to all detained immigrants, so that immigrants know their rights.

Beyond his position as a lawmaker, Booker has established himself as a powerful orator capable of bringing attention to any given issue with a mix of emotional delivery and provocation. At a presidential campaign event in June of 2019, Booker compared Trump’s immigration platform to the nativist Know Nothing Party of the 19th century, which was seeking to restrict Irish and Italian immigrants from coming to the U.S., adding, “This is why knowing history is so important.” He also claimed that President Trump is “trying to make us afraid of people coming from the southern border with brown skin.”


Booker’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Booker does not support decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings. But he has sharply rebuked former President Trump’s approach to border security, suggesting that the increase in Border Patrol agents and efforts to reduce immigration are comparable to FDR rejecting Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. “[Trump] wants to make us afraid of people wanting to come here, escaping terror, not remembering when we turned away other immigrants trying to escape terror,” Booker said. “There was a ship that came here during World War II with a bunch of folks trying to escape the Holocaust, and we turned it around where they got killed in the Holocaust.”

  • Border Wall

    Booker called for repeal of former President Trump’s executive actions that provided funding for a border wall and would like to see the removal of the wall where it’s harming border communities, such as in Nogales, Arizona, and McAllen, Texas.

  • Detention

    Booker supports reducing the number of immigrants in detention, eliminating the use of for-profit detention facilities, and shutting down all facilities that “do not meet standards set by the American Bar Association.” As a presidential candidate, he said he would “virtually eliminate immigrant detention.”

  • Immigration Courts

    Booker supports expanding access to legal representation for those facing deportation proceedings, especially for unaccompanied minors, and has proposed access to legal orientation programs — which provide basic information on proceedings and legal rights — to all immigrants in detention. He has also proposed requiring DHS to submit reports to Congress on the number of detained immigrants represented by counsel and the number of such immigrants who have participated in legal orientation programs.

  • Undocumented Population

    Booker supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who don’t have a serious criminal record. In particular, he supports expanding protections for people with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure, both of which provide legal status in the U.S. for those who have arrived from other countries that have been deemed unsafe by the U.S. government.

  • ICE

    Booker supports reforming the agency by creating “ombudsman offices . . . to monitor abusive behaviors.” He has also called for an end to immigration raids at schools, medical facilities, places of worship, and courthouses.

  • DACA

    Booker supports expanding protections and providing a pathway to citizenship for DACA enrollees.

  • Asylum & Refugees

    Booker supported the repeal of the Trump-initiated “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their applications were being considered. He would end the practice of asylum metering, which limits how many people can apply for asylum in a given day. He supported raising the annual refugee cap to pre-Trump levels of more than 100,000.

  • Central America Policy

    Booker proposed reviving the Central American Minors Program, which gave certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered for refugee resettlement. As a presidential candidate, Booker promised to appoint a special envoy at the State Department to focus on the issues that are forcing people to leave their native countries and migrate to the U.S.

  • Visas

    Booker supports raising the cap on certain temporary worker visas, including the H-1B.

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