Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) referred to illegal immigrants as her "constituents" during a Thursday House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.
Ocasio-Cortez was questioning Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump's secretary of commerce, when she made the statement. She began by referencing remarks Republican Kris Kobach made while he was Kansas secretary of state. Kobach encouraged Trump early on in his administration to add a 2020 consensus question about citizenship.
"Kobach said, 'I raised the issue with the president shortly after he was inaugurated' and 'he was absolutely interested in this,'" Ocasio-Cortez said. "Shortly thereafter, in April of 2017, Steve Bannon asked you to speak with Mr. Kobach about his 'ideas about including a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census.'"
Ross acknowledged he did speak with Kobach early on in the administration, but he was cut off by Ocasio-Cortez before he could clarify what exactly the conversation was about.
"I'm sorry, I must reclaim my time," Ocasio-Cortez said.
"Mr. Kobach later sent an email to you on July 14, writing that the lack of the citizenship question ‘leads to the problem that aliens who do not actually reside in the United States are still counted for congressional apportionment services,'" she said.
"Of course they do reside in the United States. They reside in my district. They’re my constituents," she said of illegal aliens.
Ocasio-Cortez has been an outspoken critic of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), saying the agency responsible for enforcing U.S. immigration laws has "systematically violated human rights" and caused "death."