Cory Booker Goes To Mexico To Help Migrant Women Make Asylum Claims: 'It Shouldn't Take A Member Of Congress'

New Jersey Senator and 2020 presidential Democratic candidate Cory Booker crossed the border into Mexico on Wednesday to help a group of migrant women who were forced to return there under the Trump administration's controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy see their asylum claims processed by U.S. immigration officials.

"Today, I crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso with [Families Belong Together] and [the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center] to help five women present themselves for asylum," Booker said, describing the experience in a Twitter thread. "These are my observations. Please don't look away."

One of the women seeking asylum in the U.S., the New Jersey senator said, "shared that she spent one month in detention. While there, she said the entire detention center had to stand in the sun all day without food, just water—but sometimes they ran out of water too."

Today I crossed the US-Mexico border in El Paso with @fams2gether and @LasAmericasIAC to help five women present themselves for asylum. These are my observations. Please don't look away.

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 3, 2019

Another woman, Booker said, "had to leave her home under threat of rape. Like thousands of others, under the Trump Administration's Migrant Protection Protocols, she is stuck in limbo in Mexico."

"She was so hungry while in detention that she said they would eat the peel of the orange," he said.

Meanwhile, a third woman in the group had visible bruises "all over her back from sleeping on the hard floor of the detention center."

"She wasn't able to shower for over 20 days and has rashes on her skin from the lack of sanitation," Booker explained.

"While in the detention center, she became sick. Despite the fact that the doctor wanted her to go to the hospital, Border Patrol refused," Booker said. "She was put in isolation and thought she would die."

"These stories are profoundly alarming, but my words can't begin to capture the pain," he continued. "Their very human dignity is under assault, and it's being done in our name."

According to Families Belong Together, all five of the women that Booker and immigration advocacy groups helped cross the border on Wednesday had been previously sent back to Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican city on the Rio Grande, just south of El Paso, under the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy, also known as "The Migration Protection Protocols."

The organization warned that the women, who already alleged to have been fleeing violence in their home countries, were being forced to return to a place where they would once again face the threat of violence.

The policy, which was first announced in December 2018 and implemented on January 25, 2019, allows the Trump administration to return asylum seekers making claims in the U.S. to Mexico to wait throughout the duration of their U.S. immigration proceedings.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, Jess Morales Rocketto, the Chair of Families Belong Together warned that "Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' policy is creating horrific suffering at the border," including in El Paso, Texas, which is "at the center of this crisis."

"Vulnerable people searching for safety are being sent back to dangerous conditions, without food or shelter, in violation of their human rights. This president continues to heartlessly put the lives of vulnerable people at terrible risk," she said.

In a separate statement, Linda Rivas, a lead attorney with Las Americas, which is representing the five women, emphasized the point that "it is legal to seek asylum."

"America has well-established procedures for reviewing and vetting asylum claims, and yet the Trump administration continues to defy the law of the land, throwing vulnerable people back into dangerous situations," Rivas said. "This is a violation of international human rights law."

Booker said that the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center would be monitoring the group's cases to "ensure they aren't sent back" to Mexico once again.

"But, it shouldn't take a member of Congress to help people cross into our country," he said. "Seeking asylum is a legal right."

This is a crisis that demands an urgent answer," Booker asserted. "God-willing we will answer that call with the change that we need and the fight to make it happen."

Newsweek has contacted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and Department of Homeland Security for comment for this article.

Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks to the media in the spin room following the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Booker crossed the border into the U.S. on Thursday, July 3, 2019 to help a group of migrant women forced to return to the country under the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy see their asylum claims processed. Drew Angerer/Getty