Booker: 'We do have a problem at the southern border' and 'Democrats should not deny that'

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker takes swipe at Biden criminal justice reform plan Democrats, advocacy groups urge Pompeo to abolish new 'unalienable rights' commission Biden announces plan to counteract mass incarceration MORE (D-N.J.) said Tuesday that Democrats should not ignore the nation’s immigration problems as President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to know about Boris Johnson Conservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Trump says Omar will help him win Minnesota MORE mulls hardline policies to deter illegal border crossings.

“We do have a problem at the southern border," the presidential candidate said during an event in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.  "Democrats should not deny that we [do]. Nations should have borders, borders should be respected.”

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Several Democrats running for president next year have taken aim at Trump’s immigration policies, particularly his signature campaign promise of building a wall on the southern border to prevent illegal immigration.

Booker took aim at Trump's policies, including his call for a wall on the border, but his remarks were also notable in that he offered a strong defense for the need for borders.

“And so, my beef with this president is that number one, his technologies don’t work. I’ve gone down to the border, I’ve hung out with [Customs and Border Protection] and other border patrol folks and they’re like, ‘there’s no way we need a wall coast to coast,’” Booker said. “We have a time now where you can use sensors and technologies and drones and a lot more to protect the border, which is what we should do.”

Trump is weighing additional steps to try to curb illegal immigration, including an overhaul of asylum laws. He has also controversially floated the idea of sending detained immigrants to so-called “sanctuary cities” as revenge against his political enemies.

Trump has touted his plans as necessary to reverse a rising wave of migrants making their way into the country, who the president has cast as gang members and rapists. 

Booker criticized Trump's rhetoric on the issue during his comments.

“We have to talk about the problem for what it is, not let people demonize that and then do the things that protect our country. But never ever violate the values, the human dignity of another person,” Booker said.