14 Jul Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to ‘go back’ to ‘original’ countries | US news
Donald Trump aimed a fiercely controversial attack at “the Squad” on Sunday, saying the four progressive Democrats who have clashed with their own party leaders should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.
“You can’t leave fast enough,” he added.
Trump did not name his targets but the members of “the Squad” are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Only Omar, who is from Somalia, was not born in America. Pressley is African American, Tlaib was born to Palestinian immigrants and Ocasio-Cortez comes from a New York-Puerto Rican family.
Tlaib responded by saying Trump “needs to be impeached”. Ocasio-Cortez said “the country I ‘come from’, and the country we all swear to, is the United States”.
Bernie Sanders was among those who called the attack racist.
“When I call the president a racist,” the Vermont senator wrote, “this is what I’m talking about.”
Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: “If Trump shouted the same thing at a Muslim woman wearing hijab in a Walmart, he might be arrested.”
The Squad’s run-in with House speaker Nancy Pelosi, initially over the humanitarian crisis at the southern border and including her reluctance to begin impeachment proceedings, has eaten up column inches and influenced the presidential primary.
This week, Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post Pelosi was being “outright disrespectful” with “the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color”.
On Friday Trump defended Pelosi, saying: “She is not a racist.”
In tweets on Sunday, the president wrote that it was “so interesting to see ‘progressive’ Democrat congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly 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 it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.
“I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
The presidential trolling may have been meant as a distraction from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) raids due in major cities on Sunday.
On CNN’s State of the Union Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, was asked if Trump’s tweets “feed into this impression that the president is racist and is pushing a racist agenda”.
Cuccinelli said the tweets were examples of “rhetoric for the presidential race”.
All the congresswomen have emerged as prominent opponents of Trump and key voices in a Democratic party increasingly split over how to beat the president at the polls.
Omar was born in Somalia and came to the US at 12, after a spell in a refugee camp. Elected to Congress in November as one of its first two Muslim women, she has emerged as a hate figure among Fox News hosts and Trump’s hard-right support.
Trump has regularly attacked Omar and ridiculed Ocasio-Cortez, although a new book does contain expressions seemingly denoting respect for the New Yorker.
On Saturday, Tlaib, Omar and Pressley appeared at Netroots Nation, a progressive conference in Philadelphia. Omar said: “We never need to ask for permission or wait for an invitation to lead.
“We are not really in the business of asking for the share of that power. We’re in the business of trying to grab that power and return it to the people.”
Democratic debate continued. On Sunday the Texas congressman Lloyd Doggett said on Twitter Trump’s attack was “racism pure and simple” but perhaps unwittingly echoed attacks on Pelosi when he said the president “fears the power of these strong, effective, American women of color”.
Sanders told NBC’s Meet the Press Pelosi was being “a little bit” too tough and said: “You cannot ignore the young people of this country, who are passionate about economic and racial and social and environmental justice. You gotta bring them in, not alienate them.”
The New Mexico congressman Ben Ray Luján stuck up for the speaker, telling Fox News Sunday that “as a person of color, as the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, I can tell you that Nancy Pelosi has lifted up my voice to make sure that I’ve had opportunities and to make sure my voice has been heard, as well.”
At Netroots, Tlaib said that in politics, “you have to be unapologetically you”. She made a national impression by doing just that in January, shortly after being sworn in. Speaking to supporters about Trump, she promised: “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker.”
On Sunday, Tlaib was the first to respond.
“Want a response to a lawless [and] complete failure of a president?” she wrote. “He is the crisis. His dangerous ideology is the crisis. He needs to be impeached.”
Ocasio-Cortez followed, with a lengthy rebuke.
“Given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps,” she wrote, “all at a benefit to you [and] the corp[oration]s who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet.”
She added: “You are angry because you don’t believe in an America where I represent New York 14, where the good people of Minnesota elected [Omar], where [Tlaib] fights for Michigan families, where [Pressley] champions little girls in Boston.
“You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”