After visiting the southern border in Texas, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said what he saw there will stay with him in the years to come.
“I’m emotionally raw from the trip. How our country treats immigrants coming to our nation — many fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries — will haunt me for a long time.”
“Many of us have ancestors who came to the US fleeing famine or oppression. None of us would want one of our ancestors treated like we are currently treating people at the border,” Booker added.
After arriving in McAllen, TX, Booker said he wanted to see how asylum seekers come over the border and what it was like for them to get their first taste of America.
“In the dark morning hours, I walked the length of the pedestrian bridge. As I crossed into Mexico, a Mexican official urged me to be extremely careful. “Cuidado” (“watch out”), he kept saying, driving home the point that crossing into that community in Mexico at that time of night was not safe.”
In a press release Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced their list of potential dangers facing those attempting to illegally cross the border.
“The Trump administration has repeatedly referenced the dangers of trekking to and attemptingto illegally enter the southwest border of the United States. As the perilous realities of these journeys have gone underreported, the Department of Homeland Security has compiled a list of the illegality stemming from trafficking and smuggling, the health and safety risks of entrusting someone to illegally take you across the border, and the dangerous transnational criminal organizations that exploit the porous southwest border to bolster their numbers in the interior.”
Booker voiced concern that many of the families who try to cross over into the United States are forced to turn back.
“I wondered how could they tell these families, many with children, to go back into a situation they knew was dangerous. And I thought of the many vulnerable families trying to legally claim asylum at this crossing point who ended up deciding their only option was to try another, more dangerous way into the US — after being forced to wait for sometimes days in the middle of a bridge in the heat of Texas without readily available food or water.”
Booker stated that asylum seekers “fall into a Trump trap: They became what he has termed ‘illegals’ who are ‘infesting’ our nation.”
However, during a speech given in May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned that crossing the border illegally could potentially lead to prosecution.
“If you make false statements to an immigration officer or file a fraudulent asylum claim, that’s a felony. If you help others to do so, that’s a felony too. You’re going to jail,” he said.
Sessions also commented that the American people have long been asking for border laws to be enforced, adding “The American people are right to and just and decent to ask for this.”
“I have no doubt that many of those crossing our border illegally are leaving difficult situations. But we cannot take everyone on Earth who is in a difficult situation,” Sessions concluded.
After visiting one of the detention centers, Booker described the conditions as “difficult,” adding “Doors were open that allowed more circulation and less crowding than the other areas, but it still felt like a large cage.”
“It was good to see that many of the border agents held the children and clearly tried to comfort and nurture them (though agents were told that they are not allowed to touch children, even to comfort them),” he said.
“I honor these CBP officers for their compassion amid so much distress.”
Booker concluded by saying he still believes the American people will continue to do the right thing when it comes to immigration.
“Right now in the border crisis, there are agents of love and agents of fear. My hope is that we don’t let fear and the hate it yields divide us beyond repair. Despite the heartbreak I saw at the border, I will always have faith that in America, ultimately, love prevails.”