During her first few days in Congress, socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted to fund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and then turned around and attacked President Donald Trump for supporting the same agency.
“The president should not be asking for more money to an agency that has systematically violated human rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Tuesday while talking about ICE. “The president should be really defending why we are funding such an agency at all because right now what we are seeing is death, right now what we are seeing is the violation of human rights.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments were confusing given the fact that she voted to fund ICE last week when she voted “aye” on a continuing resolution that funded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which controls ICE.
Full transcript of Ocasio-Cortez’s interview on Maddow provided via MSNBC:
Joining us now is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us tonight. I`m really
happy to have you here with us on the show.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Of course. Thank you for
having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, let me start by getting your top line reaction to the
president`s speech tonight. You have never been a member of Congress while
the government wasn`t shut down, so, obviously, this is a strange
circumstance for you and your colleagues in the freshman class to be taking
your first steps.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, absolutely. I cannot tell you the amount of
dysfunction that this president is advancing. We now have over 100 new
members of the freshman class.
I cannot even get laptops to my caseworkers on the ground in the Bronx and
Queens so they can process the needs of our constituents. We can`t
mortgage – you know, we cannot get case work started because we can`t even
get laptops in the hands of our district offices because the president has
decided to hold the paychecks of everyday Americans hostage so that he can
fulfill a campaign, I don`t even – I don`t even want to call it a promise,
a campaign fantasy that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of.
And not only that, but in the actual address, there was falsehood after
falsehood, and we have to make sure that we get our facts straight. Every
day, immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than native-born
Americans. And not only that, but the women and children on that border
that are trying to seek refuge and seek opportunity in the United States of
America with nothing but the shirt on their backs are acting more American
than any person who seeks to keep them out ever will be.
MADDOW: Are you at all dissuaded – not dissuaded, I guess it`s a wrong
word. Dismayed or discouraged by the fact that the president has been
saying the same untrue things about immigrant crime, about the terrible
character of immigrants coming into this country, about a false
relationship that he has invented between violent crime and immigration.
We heard him tell falsehoods tonight contradicted even by his own
administration about this flood – as he described it, a pipeline of drugs
coming across the southern border, his own Drug Enforcement Administration
has said that the vast majority of drugs, even those coming from the south
of, from south from this country are coming through ports of entry and not
over anything that would be stopped by a wall.
Are you discouraged or what`s your sort of strategic take on the fact that
the president has been telling the same lies for years now and not shying
away from them at all?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think it`s not unsurprising because even before he
was elected president of the United States, he has proven track record of
discrimination against anybody that`s really none white in the United
States. He had been sued by the Nixon administration back in the day for
not renting to black Americans. He has had controversy after controversy.
So, this is very consistent. It`s not just the continued lies throughout
his administration but frankly, it`s part of a very consistent pattern of
his entire life.
But I think it`s extremely important – you know, I represent New York`s
14th congressional. We are 50 percent immigration. I represent the Bronx
and Queens, Jackson Heights, over 200 languages are spoken in my district
alone. We enjoy some of the highest rates of economic activity and the
Bronx itself has had some of the highest rates of economic growth in all of
New York City and that has been directly, directly correlated with our
embrace of immigrants.
New York City overall is an immigrant city and we enjoy a very large amount
of economic and cultural prosperity as a result.
MADDOW: The president has been singing this same song that he did a
different version of tonight in the Oval Office, since the very, very start
of his campaign. He has made anti-immigrant rhetoric and often factually
incorrect screeds demonizing immigrants, more core to his presidency than
any form of his rhetoric.
And so, in your district, in a district as you say that is not just diverse
but 50 percent immigrant and that you`re talking about the sort of economic
relationship that you can see between immigrant economic activity and the
overall performance of your district, what`s the consequence of having
somebody as president who has made this core to his message and to what he
wants his presidency to mean? What is the harm that`s caused by him
talking this way and using this sort of platform the way he has even when
he can`t get his policies passed?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I can – I can tell you a very personal story. And as many
people know, I was working in restaurants just a year ago. And when the
president first assumed office with his – with his racist and violent
rhetoric, people started to send themselves home. And as we know, in
restaurants, hospitality, every American eats if you can, if you`re lucky
enough or we`re able to eat three times a day.
And that means we interact with the people who prepare our food three times
a day. When those people start to go home, local or rather go back to
their countries which they originated from because many of them consider
the United States their home, those places, they go into dysfunction.
I remember one of our lead cooks brought himself back to Mexico because he
was so scared of the president`s rhetoric. We had an insane amount of
We`re talking about local restaurants. We`re talking about local
businesses. We`re talking about shuttering neighborhoods. And we`re
talking about people feeling unsafe.
And no one should feel unsafe in the United States of America. And that
includes our amazing and beautiful and productive immigrant community.
And moreover, the one thing the president has not talked about is the fact
he has systematically engaged in the violation of international human
rights borders on – human rights on our border. He has separated children
from their families. He talked about what happened the day of Christmas on
the day of Christmas, a child died in ICE custody.
The president should not be asking for more money to an agency that has
systematically violated human rights. The president should be really
defending why we are funding such an agency at all because right now, what
we are seeing is death. Right now, what we are seeing is the violation of
human rights. 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, and more over, even if you are anti-immigrant in this country, the
majority of immigrant overstays, the majority of the reason that people are
undocumented is visa overstay. It`s not because people are crossing a
border illegally. It is because of visa overstay which mind you, he`s
talking about legal immigration, he`s trying to restrict every form of
legal immigration there is in the United States.
He`s fighting against family reunification. He`s fighting against the
diversity visa lottery. He`s fighting against almost ever way that people
can actually legally enter this country, forcing them to become
undocumented, and then he`s trying to attack their undocumented status.
This is systematic. It is wrong and it is anti-American. And again, those
women and children trying to come here with nothing but the shirts on their
back to create an opportunity and to provide for this nation are acting
more in an American tradition than this president is right now.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, thank you so
much for being with us tonight. I know this is your first time being here
on the show and I know that you have been one of the highest profile
members of this new Congress and you`ve got a lot of pressures on your
time. Thanks for making time to be here and I hope you`ll come back.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course. Thank you so much.