Progressive Democrats have been relentless in their vocal criticism of the inhumane conditions of migrant detention centers, and it’s clearly gotten under the administration’s skin. Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted a racially-charged tirade out to the public suggesting that any Congresspeople who are openly critical about his immigration policies ought to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” Though President Trump didn’t single out exactly who should “go back where you came from,” it’s fair to assume that he was referring to Representatives Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and possibly Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib as well. Only Rep. Omar was born abroad.
Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States.
But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet. https://t.co/HLKQCotR8T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019
There’s just so many levels of wrong happening there — Puerto Rico is part of the United States; three of the four representatives Trump was likely targeting have always lived in their birth country.; immigrants, the progeny of immigrants, and people of color are not second-class citizens who have to be reminded of why they ought to be grateful for what they have. “THIS is what racism looks like,” tweeted Pressley. “WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere. Except back to DC to fight for the families you marginalize and vilify every day.”
Minnesota Rep. Omar, the only target of President Trump’s who were not born in the United States, was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. She and her siblings were raised by their father and grandfather, fleeing the violence of the Somali Civil War in the early ‘90s. Her family spent several years at the Utanga refugee camp in Mombasa, Kenya, where Omar recalled to The Guardian that she had been envious of Kenyan children who were able to attend school; as a refugee, she did not have that opportunity.
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
Omar has been a U.S. citizen since the age of 17 and has worked to represent her community at home as well as fighting for human rights at the global level. Though the Utango refugee camp closed shortly after the Omars sought asylum in the U.S., the representative returned to her to in 2011 to a different camp as to aid humanitarian efforts following a famine in the region. So, yes, she actually has gone “back to her country” to effect positive change, and she has been a tireless advocate for human rights from abroad. She knows exactly what is at stake when politicians abuse their positions of power or choose profits over people; she ran for Congress in her home country of the U.S. to ensure that we are building a better world here, in what is supposedly a beacon of freedom for the world.
“In my last race, I talked about what my win would have meant for that 8-year-old girl in that refugee camp,” Omar said upon winning the Democratic primary in her district last fall. “And today, I still think about her and I think about the kind of hope and optimism all of those 8-year-olds around the country and around the world get from seeing your beautiful faces elect and believe in someone like me.”
By the way, the conflict in Somalia still rages on; on Friday, Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh and 26 other victims were killed in an act of terrorism. Nalayeh worked in her field to change the narrative of reporting that came from her birth country. “Her dedicated mission was to spread light and love to the Somali world through her work in journalism,” a loved one wrote in a statement posted to her Facebook page. “She brought inspiration and hope to the Somali people through storytelling.”