Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) on Friday argued that Americans seeking to help refugees should first think about how the United States is to blame for their predicament.
"When you see a Somali refugee or an Iraqi refugee or a Libyan refugee, we often are like ‘this is my neighbor, they must have survived some struggle,' we don't ever pause to think ‘what American policy made them come over here?'" she said at a Democracy Now! and Rising Majority event in Washington, D.C., receiving loud applause.
She went on to say even environmental problems around the world ultimately come back to how Americans have contributed to global warming.
"When you see flooding happening in a country abroad and you are urgently raising money for these lives to be saved, you don't think about, ‘How have I contributed to the climate warming that has led to these floodings and these catastrophes that are taking place abroad?'" Omar said.
She told the Howard University audience that the problems caused by the American military should lead the country toward "reimagining a vision of what our foreign policy should be." She also said it is important "what human rights conditionalities [sic] could mean as we think about people who are using the weapons that are created in this country to take the lives of innocent children and women and men abroad."
She concluded by arguing the United States should stop using money for "militarizing our government" and instead use it "for the prospect of peace around the world."
"There is so much that is possible if we stopped using the muscle memory that has become the norm in the ways that we formulate our policies," she said.
She also argued that Americans should worry about jobs going overseas not because that reduces employment opportunities for them, but rather because it means people in countries such as Mexico will be subjected to the exploitative practices of American corporations.