- Cory Booker crossed the US border at El Paso, Texas into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
- Booker helped asylum-seekers get back to the US after they had been deported
- He was joined in Mexico by immigration rights attorneys and other advocates
- Senator caused controversy on social media after helping the asylum seekers
Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker has caused controversy by crossing into Mexico to escort deported asylum seekers back over the border.
The Senator, 50, visited the Mexican border city Ciudad Juarez from El Paso, Texas, to help five women who had previously been sent back to Mexico.
He was joined by immigration rights attorneys and advocates to get the women, who are fleeing domestic violence, admitted back into the US.
However, he has been accused of breaking the law by critics who claimed he violated legislation which prohibits 'bringing or attempting to bring unauthorized aliens into the United States in any manner whatsoever, even at a designated port of entry'.
His trip across the border comes after Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited a detention center this week and said that illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers were 'drinking out of toilets' – a claim an agency official quickly denied.
Several Democratic leadership candidates have made visits to detention centers in recent weeks, including Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete Buttigieg, and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Booker tweeted about his visit to Mexico, with photos and video of him escorting the immigrants shared on social media.
He said: 'Today I crossed the US-Mexico border in El Paso with @fams2gether and @LasAmericasIAC to help five women present themselves for asylum.
'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.'
Booker said the women had been abused and lived in squalid conditions with inadequate food, water and medical attention while detained in the US.
He was slammed online for escorting the asylum seekers over the border.
One person wrote: 'You should be charged with treason. Certainly won't get my vote.'
Another said: 'So a sitting US Senator openly admits to breaking the law. I would say kiss your prospects goodbye but your poll numbers already show that.'
A third added: 'When is the last time you went to a soup kitchen here in the US?'
Linda Rivas, an attorney with the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, said that the women Booker helped were victims of sexual assault and labor trafficking in Juarez.
They appeared to have been sent back to Mexico under the Trump administration's 'Migrant Protection Protocols'.
MPP sends asylum-seekers back to Mexico while their applications for asylum are pending.
It comes after Booker released a new immigration plan on Tuesday that would 'virtually eliminate immigration detention.'
If the New Jersey Senator was elected, he vowed to severely limit the time unaccompanied children are able to be held in custody. It would also put an end to for-profit detention facilities.
The 2020 Democrat contender's campaign said the plan would phase out government contracts with private prison operators over the course of three years, shut down facilities that do not meet high standards of care and reform the bond system in immigration court by prioritizing liberty over detention for immigrants.
Instead of detaining the illegal border-crossers, Booker's plan proposes they be monitored using 'alternatives to detention,' like some of the methods already being utilized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE uses ankle bracelets, bonds and in-person and phone check-ins.
There are, however, exceptions, and immigrants who pose a risk to public safety or are deemed a flight risk would still be detained as part of Booker's plan.
Booker, 50, is one of the 25 Democrats seeking the party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The issue of immigration and detention centers has been high on the political agenda in recent weeks.
Speaking outside a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, firebrand Congresswoman AOC raged this week: 'There's abuse in these facilities.'
'This was them knowing a congressional visit was coming. This was CBP on their best behavior. Telling people to drink out of the toilet.'
AOC said she 'forced' herself into a cell with detainees and one woman told her officers were waging 'psychological warfare' and that the agents often called them 'wh***s.'
The 29-year-old congresswoman claimed officers laughed at migrants drinking out of toilets.
The inflammatory statements – including the suggestion that she witnessed toilet-drinking herself – came hours after a news story established the existence of a private Facebook group where current and former CBP agents distributed lewd illustrations of the Democratic congresswoman from New York.
She was later criticized by members of the Jewish community after doubling down on her description of migrant detention facilities as concentration camps.
Writer and Israel activist Emily Schrader tweeted: 'If you can’t make your point without diminishing the memory of the Holocaust you need to re-examine your claim.'
Joel M. Petlin, who contributes to the Jewish publication The Forward, tweeted in reply to AOC:
'As you quadruple down on the Holocaust references, please know that actual survivors of Nazi Concentration Camps are begging you to stop & instead tour a real one in Poland. I respect your passion to help those at the border but why are you not respecting Holocaust survivors?'
In reply to Petlin, user @MicheleSabra, who calls herself a 'proud Israeli American doing my part to stop antisemitism,' tweeted: 'Because she doesn’t care about either one. Its all one big AOC show.'
Focus on detention centers increased last week after a desperate father, and his 23-month-old daughter, drowned when attempting to swim across the Rio Grande to gain illegal entry into the US.
Trump has made clamping down on illegal immigration the centerpiece of his domestic policy agenda, rallying against Central American migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
Some, including a handful of candidates, blame the current administration’s policies and crack downs for the two Salvadoran deaths, claiming they were desperate to step foot in the US.
But U.S. agencies have struggled to keep up with a surge of Central American families arriving at the border, straining resources and severely overcrowding facilities.