Rashida Tlaib Calls for Hunger Strikes to 'Shut Down ICE'

VIDEO: 'There are people that are using hunger strike...and I plan to'

Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib / Getty Images
April 18, 2019

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) urged her supporters to join her in a hunger strike to push for action to "shut down" U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), arguing the radical push to abolish ICE can't be achieved by Congress.

Tlaib, headlining a Detroit fundraiser this past weekend for the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, complained of colleagues who are constantly "policing" what she says and lack willingness to embrace bold stands such as abolishing ICE. She called on her activist audience to join her in a hunger strike at the border.

"It's going to take movements outside the halls of Congress," Tlaib told the crowd, according to video captured by America Rising, a conservative group.

"I want you all to shut them down, we can shut them down," Tlaib said to applause. "Don't wait for this Congress to act, shut them down."

"I know what they're going to say, they'll go, 'What do you mean Rashida?' Well I'll tell you. There are some people that are using hunger strike, all these other things, going to the border, and I plan to."

Tlaib's office did not initially respond to a request for comment on the call for hunger strike and whether any planning was ongoing.

In a Thursday email, Tlaib's communications director Denzel McCampbell said Tlaib was not actually calling for a hunger strike, but rather stating that "she knows of folks who have done" them.

Tlaib's full remarks to the group were highly critical of her Democratic colleagues in leadership. She said many were too "strategic," and reject bold plans like hers to abolish ICE because they're "not ready for that now."

She reiterated a sentiment expressed on Saturday in defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) that party leadership uses the women of color in the freshman class to look diverse.

"They put us in photos when they want to show our party is diverse," Tlaib said. "However, when we ask to be at the table, or speak up about issues that impact who we are, what we fight for and why we ran in the first place, we are ignored."

She also said her speech is policed by colleagues and the media.

"We watch that people are policing what we say," she said. "I constantly hear, 'What do you mean Rashida? Do you condemn this?' I say, I don't know, do you condemn that?"

She also said she is treated like an outsider in the halls of Congress and is not accepted as an American.

"Honestly, I've never felt more Palestinian than I feel in Congress," she said. "Even in Palestine [sic] when I'm visiting my grandmother, I'm American to the Palestinians. But I'm more Palestinian in the halls of Congress than I am anywhere in the country, in the world."

Update 1:48 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from Tlaib's communications director.