Vehemently rejecting President Donald Trump’s Tuesday evening address on immigration, in which the president was allowed by every major news network to once again portray immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border as drug dealers and rapists, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appeared on MSNBC‘s “The Rachel Maddow Show” to call attention to the harm Trump’s xenophobic agenda has done to immigrants and communities across the country.
Saying Congress should refuse to give Trump more funding for immigration enforcement in order to end the government shutdown, now in its 18th day, Ocasio-Cortez denounced the numerous human rights violations the Trump administration has committed at the border, including the family separation policy which the president was forced to end last spring after it provoked international outcry and the treatment of families by border agents.
“The president should not be asking for more money to an agency that has systematically violated human rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The president should really be defending why we are funding such an agency at all, because right now what we are seeing right now is death, right now what we are seeing is the violation of human rights.”
WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivers impassioned response to President Trump’s address: “The president should be really defending why we are funding [ICE] at all … right now, what we are seeing, is death.” pic.twitter.com/4Al4GLWUvB
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 9, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged that “no one should feel unsafe in the United States of America,” in response the the president’s focus on American victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. But, she said, “that includes our amazing and beautiful and productive immigrant community.”
“He talked about what happened the day after Christmas?” she said, referring to a story Trump told about an undocumented immigrant who was arrested for allegedly killing a police officer in California last month. “The day of Christmas, a child died in ICE custody.”
“He’s fighting against almost every way that people can actually legally enter this country forcing them to become undocumented. And then he’s trying to attack their undocumented status.” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)“These children and these families are being held in what are called hieleras which are basically freezing boxes that no person should be maintained in for any amount of time, let alone the amount of time they are being kept on,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
At least two children have died in U.S. custody in recent weeks after being held by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, including seven-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo.
Ocasio-Cortez also swiftly dismantled Trump’s overarching narrative regarding undocumented immigrants, who he has repeatedly claimed are pouring over the U.S.-Mexico border with the intent of committing crimes, taking jobs away from American workers, and taking advantage of government benefits.
Most people with undocumented status in the U.S., she said, are undocumented because they’ve stayed in the country after their visas expired—not because they crossed the border without going through a designated port of entry. In addition to his aggressive and cruel moves at the border, Ocasio-Cortez noted, the president has also taken aim at the ability of immigrants to obtain legal status.
“He’s trying to restrict every form of legal immigration there is in the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “He’s fighting against family reunification, he’s fighting against the diversity visa lottery, he’s fighting against almost every way that people can actually legally enter this country forcing them to become undocumented. And then he’s trying to attack their undocumented status.”