U.S. Sen. Cory Booker this week became the first candidate running for president to help asylum seekers walk across the U.S. border.

New Jersey's junior senator on Wednesday crossed into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to meet migrants trying to seek asylum in the United States.

He and immigrant advocates returned with five women who had previously been deported to Mexico to wait for their applications to be processed. The women are fleeing domestic violence.

Booker raised concerns with the way asylum seekers are being treated at facilities near the border and criticized the Trump administration's Migrant Protection Protocols, which sends people who try to cross the border without authorization or proper documentation back to Mexico to await proceedings.

The Department of Homeland Security says the MPP are necessary to address the "security and humanitarian crisis on the Southern border."

"Misguided court decisions and outdated laws have made it easier for illegal aliens to enter and remain in the U.S. if they are adults who arrive with children, unaccompanied alien children, or individuals who fraudulently claim asylum," the DHS website says. "As a result, DHS continues to see huge numbers of illegal migrants and a dramatic shift in the demographics of aliens traveling to the border [...] from a demographic who could be quickly removed when they had no legal right to stay to one that cannot be detained and timely removed."

Cory Booker
Cory Booker, escorts migrants across the United States - Mexico border to help them ask for asylum, in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, July 3 2019. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

Jess Morales Rocketto, of Families Belong Together, the group that accompanied Booker, echoed the Democratic candidate's assessment that the Trump administration is to blame for the humanitarian crisis at the border.

“Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is creating horrific suffering at the border and El Paso is at the center of this crisis,” she said. “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.”

Booker's border crossing, flanked by news cameras, came a day after he released a comprehensive border and immigration policy that would roll back many of the executive orders of President Donald Trump.

"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," Booker said Wednesday on Twitter.

"One of them 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."

"One of the women—I can’t share her name out of concern for her safety—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."

"Another of the women has 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."

"While in the detention center, she became sick. Despite the fact that the doctor wanted her to go to the hospital, border patrol refused. 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. Their very human dignity is under assault, and it’s being done in our name."

"We helped the women present themselves for asylum. @LasAmericasIAC will monitor them throughout the process to ensure they aren't sent back. But it shouldn't take a member of Congress to help people cross into our country. Seeking asylum is a legal right."

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

Cory Booker
New Jersey senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, organizes the entry of a group of migrants, as they cross the United States - Mexico border to help them ask for asylum, in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, July 3 2019. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

Booker's plan calls for ICE reducing raids at schools, churches and courthouses; ending the travel ban from certain Muslim-majority countries; eliminating immigration quotas; and ending criminal prosecutions of illegal border crossers.

So Sunday, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke became the first presidential candidate to visit Juarez in order to highlight immigration policies.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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