House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Democrats to watch what they say in today’s “politically charged” climate after freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came under fire for classifying immigrant detention centers as concentration camps.
“They come to represent their districts and their point of view,” Pelosi said of freshman Democrats during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday morning. “They take responsibility for the statements they make.”
Pelosi went on to warn the Democratic caucus as a whole about “how politically charged the atmosphere is” and that their rivals may exploit the comments they make. She told reporters that she had not talked to Ocasio-Cortez about her recent comments slamming immigrant detention centers.
The New York Democrat was widely criticized this week after she alleged that the government was operating “concentration camps” for migrants along the U.S-Mexico border during an Instagram live video on Monday evening.
“I want to talk to people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the video. “The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the ‘Home of the Free’ is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.”
Earlier this month, the Trump administration moved to end all educational, recreational and legal services that are offered to migrant children being held in U.S. custody. The Office of Refugee Resettlement said that due to “tremendous strain,” they would be cutting programs that are “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety” of the children in their care.
The White House also recently announced plans to begin deporting millions of illegal immigrants, a proposal Pelosi slammed as “utter malice and bigotry.”
But Ocasio-Cortez pushed back against her critics, tweeting that the government has established facilities where immigrants are “being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”
“And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing,” she added.
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