In her defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) points her finger at 26 of her Democratic colleagues, saying they were racists for supporting a proposal to notify immigration authorities if illegal aliens are caught trying to buy a gun.
Ocasio-Cortez argued that the discussion about bigotry within the Democratic caucus shouldn't be aimed at Omar's anti-Semitism, but rather the 26 Democrats who she says are racist for buying into the "false trope that Latino immigrants are more dangerous than U.S. born citizens."
The proof of their racism was support for a Republican amendment to H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, that required federal authorities to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement whenever an illegal immigrant tries to buy a firearm. More than 3,000 illegal immigrants have their gun purchase attempts rejected each year.
Ocasio-Cortez says the 26 Democrat supporters of the amendment are the ones the party should be condemning.
"If we're so concerned about implied tropes, why aren't we concerned about this one?" she argued. "Where was the concern last week when 26 Dems voted for a GOP amendment to expand ICE powers rooted in the racist + false trope that Latino immigrants are more dangerous than U.S born citizens?"
If we’re so concerned about implied tropes, why aren’t we concerned about this one?
Where was the concern last week when 26 Dems voted for a GOP amendment to expand ICE powers rooted in the racist + false trope that Latino immigrants are more dangerous than US born citizens? https://t.co/KNzRDWJH4z
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 6, 2019
"It's based in a racist + non-evidence based trope that immigrants are dangerous," she said. "Yet some Dems are willing to ‘compromise' and spend BILLIONS on a trope because we've accepted some kinds of racism as realpolitik in America."
The comments came as debate raged within the Democratic caucus over a planned resolution condemning anti-Semitism. Ocasio-Cortez and other allies of Omar forced a delay on the vote, arguing that Omar shouldn't be singled out.
Reached for comment, none of the 26 Democrats targeted by Ocasio-Cortez—a group that includes Jewish lawmakers such as Reps. Max Rose (N.Y.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), and Elaine Luria (Va.)—elected to push back against being called racists.
The only member to respond to the request for comment was Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.), who side-stepped the accusation of racism but defended his vote for the amendment to the gun bill.
"Guns are serious business," Van Drew said in an emailed statement. "The purpose of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act is to prevent people who should not have guns from acquiring them. I strongly believe in the right to bear arms per the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but if someone is not legally authorized to obtain a firearm, including undocumented immigrants, they should not do so."
The Twitter attack from Ocasio-Cortez came as more senior members of the caucus were pleading with newer members to lay off social media.
"For Democrats, the internal divide over how to handle Omar's statements has been exacerbated by members targeting each other on Twitter, where much of the public debate has played out," wrote the Washington Post in its report on closed door conversations on how to respond to Omar's latest anti-Semitic remarks.
The backlash from Ocasio-Cortez and her allies proved to be effective, with party leadership backing off plans to hold a vote on the resolution condemning anti-Semitism. Democrats are now expected to vote on a broader resolution targeting all types of hate speech on Thursday.