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14.01 12 Aug 2016


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US Senator for New Jersey Cory Booker has called for more immigration from Ireland, rebuking Donald Trump’s plan to deport millions of undocumented migrants from the US.

"I’m pro-immigration and I think we need more Irish immigration," he told Newstalk from his home state, New Jersey.

If the Democrats are re-elected to govern in November, Booker says they'll change immigration laws; making them "rational," noting that the Irish experience is a perfect example of how immigration grows the economy.

"Some of America's best inventors, business people, artists and teachers are Irish. It's what makes America great," he says. "I’d like to send a message out to folks in Ireland: you’ve a great country, but come to America guys; immigrate here."

Mr Booker is a rising star in the Democratic Party and gave a potent, stirring speech urging unity and cohesion among delegates on the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last month.

His 'America: we shall rise' speech was delivered to an deeply unsettled and rancorous crowd of delegates and attendees, angered by revelations that the Democratic National Committee had actively plotted to ensure the party’s nomination went to Hillary Clinton over her nearest rival Senator Bernie Sanders during the primaries.

Booker’s pro-immigration stance is in stark contrast to the 'build-a-wall' rhetoric which epitomises the GOP’s main message this presidential race. 

Like many others, Booker is warning of the "perils" of a Trump presidency, echoing concerns that are almost becoming a consensus among some republicans and democrats about his latest unhinged diatribes.

In recent weeks, Trump has invited Russia to engage in cyber espionage against the US, attacked the bereaved family of a war hero, and most recently suggested that gun advocates remedy the problem which Hillary Clinton poses to the second amendment by taking the law into their own hands.

It was an opaque comment open to interpretation but, given his propensity to condone violence at his rallies, it has been roundly criticised. "This isn’t just one incident, Booke says, "this is the guy who says he’ll pay the legal bills for people at his rallies if they attacked protesters.

"Every week we're reminded why this person should not be president, why it would be dangerous.

"When a president speaks, it has ramifications throughout the globe, so for him to make irresponsible comments could plunge us into greater peril, put Americans overseas into danger, cause conflicts with allies or unnecessary conflicts with adversaries."

Two months ago, Booker took part in an almost 15-hour filibuster as the Democrats sought to introduce stricter gun laws in the wake of the Orlando attack.

“This isn't about basic Second Amendment rights, about law-abiding access to guns, that is safe and secure" he says. "We have a nation right now where you can be a suspected terrorist, go into gun show and buy a truckload of weapons, no questions asked.

"We have people blocking common sense gun safety laws that are going to keep our families, our neighbourhoods, our churches and our schools safe.”

Image: Gerald Herbert / AP/Press Association Images

The New Jersey senator argues that the focus for the next administration should be the expansion of equality amongst the genders, access to college without mountainous college debt, raising minimum wage and progressive tax regimes to allow the middle classes develop.

Booker was one of a few prospective running mates for Hillary Clinton for the 2016 ticket, and described the experience as an honourbale one that came with a "very intense" vetting process.

However, he doesn’t rule out a run for the presidency himself in the future when asked, joking that "depending on who gets elected, I might be running from the president".

"But I’m focused on being New Jersey senator for now," he says.

Shona Murray's report has been funded by the Global Irish Media Fund.


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