Cory Booker has unveiled an immigration agenda “on day one of his presidency”, composed of changes without relying on Congress, to “virtually eliminate immigrant detention” and expand protections for illegal immigrants through executive order.

Booker’s immigration plan, unveiled Tuesday, sets a different tone from former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s immigration agenda by focusing entirely on executive orders that a future president could pursue without relying on a legislative deal that has proved elusive in recent years.

For instance, if elected, Booker would use his presidential powers to orient the Department of Homeland Security away from raids that target migrants at locations such as schools or churches while adding courthouses to that list, according to a summary released by the New Jersey senator’s campaign. Booker also vows to end President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the U.S. by residents of certain majority-Muslim nations.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Booker launched his 2020 campaign in February. He is polling in the single digits in the Democratic primary, trailing five or more rivals.

“When kids are being stripped away from their parents and held in cages, I will not wait for Congress to solve this crisis,” Booker said in a statement announcing the plan. “On day one of my presidency, I will take immediate steps to end this administration’s moral vandalism,” according to Fox News.

“And although there are limits on what we can do to reverse the damage that has already been done to the lives of thousands and to communities across our country, we can put an end to the horror, and turn the page to a new chapter of our history,” Booker added. “Our country must have an immigration system that reflects our values, not one that strips dignity away from people fleeing danger, threats, and violence.”

Dan Cadman, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official and fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies think tank, told Fox News that Democrats wanted to “render it impossible for the government to detain anyone, anywhere, anytime in any facilities.”

Private detention centers, he said, often were cheaper and more efficient than their government-run counterparts.

“U.S. government facilities are staffed by officers and employees who have good salaries, mandatory overtime provisions, excellent health benefits and lifetime pensions,” Cadman wrote on Monday. “None of that is cheap by any means. While no one wants private facility guards who are underpaid and overworked, the fact is that using the private sector to do this work is not only a more cost effective use of taxpayer dollars, but also frees up the officers and support staff who would otherwise be in such a facility to do different but equally mission critical work.”

This article was edited by TheBL.