WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump used language many critics decried as racist on Sunday as he criticized progressive Democratic congresswomen, implying they weren’t natural-born American citizens.
Trump did not name who he was referring to in Sunday’s comments, though he did reference New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last week while defending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A group of Democratic representatives who are women of color and have been outspoken about Trump’s immigration policies condemned the conditions of border detention facilities last week. The group included Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Trump implied in his tweets Sunday that the congresswomen weren’t born in America and suggested “they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
Later Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter that the country she “come(s) from” and “swears to” is the U.S. She went on to say that Trump is “angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us.”
You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.
You won’t accept a nation that sees healthcare as a right or education as a #1 priority, especially where we’re the ones fighting for it.
Yet here we are.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019
“You rely on a frightened America for your plunder,” the New Yorker wrote in a tweet.
Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley are natural-born U.S. citizens, while Omar was born in Somalia and immigrated to the U.S. when she was young. Omar became a citizen in 2000 at age 17, according to the New York Times.
Trump’s tweets come as interest in the conditions of detention centers housing migrants has risen sharply and raids to round up undocumented immigrants were being conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in multiple major cities across the nation.
Omar also responded to the President’s attacks on Sunday, writing that “As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States.”
As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States.
Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen. https://t.co/FBygHa2QTt
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 14, 2019
“Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen,” Omar continued, adding that Trump is “stoking white nationalism” because he is “angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”
Pelosi jumped to the defense of the congresswomen and condemned Trump’s language. “When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to “Make America Great Again” has always been about making America white again,” Pelosi tweeted on Sunday. “Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”
When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to “Make America Great Again” has always been about making America white again.
Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power. https://t.co/ODqqHneyES
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 14, 2019
New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the assistant speaker of the House, echoed Pelosi’s sentiments on Twitter Sunday: “A racist tweet from a racist president.”
A racist tweet from a racist president. https://t.co/YXxu2SEmvK
— Ben Ray Luján (@repbenraylujan) July 14, 2019
On “Fox News Sunday,” Luján told Chris Wallace, “That’s a racist tweet. Telling people to go back where they came from? These are American citizens elected by voters in the United States of America to serve in one of the most distinguished bodies in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Other Democrats also criticized Trump’s tweets Sunday, including a number of 2020 presidential hopefuls.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet that, “When I call the president a racist, this is what I’m talking about.”
When I call the president a racist, this is what I’m talking about
We must stand together for justice and dignity towards all. https://t.co/lweeJk7NoF
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 14, 2019
Andrew Yang, another 2020 Democratic hopeful, said in a tweet, “Characterizing members of Congress as being from another country is part of the problem.”
Characterizing members of Congress as being from another country is part of the problem. We need to come together and stop putting up false barriers between different groups of people.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) July 14, 2019