Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) claimed during a rally on Thursday that refugees who come to the United States are "detained and tortured."
Omar told the crowd of activists, joined in their goal of defunding Immigration and Customs Enforcement, about the story of how her family risked their lives to flee Somalia into Kenya, before eventually coming to the United States. She said that because of her experience, she will "cry" every time she sees a picture of a little girl "standing in the desert waiting to get processed in the country."
"The difference between what is happening to some of those little girls and me is that I didn't have a cage waiting for me," Omar said. "I had an open-armed people with moral clarity, awaiting us and saying ‘you've been through a lot, here's your new home, you're our new neighbor, you need water and you need food.'"
Omar said refugees in the United States do not receive the same "open-armed" treatment.
"They are separated and processed. They are detained and tortured. And we can't continue to allow that to happen. At least not under our watch," she said.
She went on to say that Americans must protect the values of "upholding human rights," of "welcoming immigrants," and "acceptance and tolerance."
Omar's comments come just days after President Donald Trump addressed immigration at his 2019 State of the Union speech, saying that he wanted to bring in as many legal immigrants as possible.
"This is a moral issue," Trump said. "The lawless state of our Southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally."
Fellow freshmen Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) accompanied Omar at the rally.