After photos of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visiting the southern border went viral this week, additional angles surfaced revealing what the New York Democrat was really crying over: a mostly empty stretch of asphalt.
Photographer Ivan Pierre Aguirre on Monday tweeted the four photos of Ocasio-Cortez weeping against a chain-link fence, saying he had taken them exactly a year ago at a protest in Tornillo, Mexico. He praised the then-congressional candidate for taking a stand against a shelter for migrant children in the border town.
Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, retweeted Aguirre’s post on Tuesday, saying: “I’ll never forget this, because it was the moment I saw with my own eyes that the America I love was becoming a nation that steals refugee children from their parents,& caged them.”
I’ll never forget this, because it was the moment I saw with my own eyes that the America I love was becoming a nation that steals refugee children from their parents,& caged them.
More kids died after this. To date, no one has been held accountable.
We need to save these kids. https://t.co/HhdMqc5zML
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 25, 2019
The congresswoman’s comments came amid renewed liberal outrage over President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, provoked in part by her dubious comparison of migrant detention centers on the U.S.-Mexico border to “concentration camps.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s fans praised the photos for capturing the pathos and passion that have helped make the congresswoman a progressive superstar. The post accumulated some 205,000 likes and 58,000 retweets.
On the other hand, critics derided her for grandstanding, with some suggesting the photos were “staged’
Looks like a pre-planned photo opp!
— Matt (@mattdelong90) June 25, 2019
A spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday dismissed the backlash as “right wing garbage.”
“I cannot control what kind of right-wing garbage shows up on the bottom of the posts,” he told The Hill, adding that comments alleging the photos were fake or staged are “in no way related to reality or truth.”
Why was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez crying at the border?
However, on Wednesday, Grabien reporter Tom Elliot tweeted a pair of archival images from the Tornillo protest. The new angles showed that Ocasio-Cortez had not been gazing not upon horrific suffering by migrant children, but rather onto some fenced-off road well removed from the detention center.
“Apparently she was crying about the lack of migrant children for her photo op,” Elliot joked.
Searched Grabien’s PhotoBank and found these alternate angle pics of @AOC where her sad-face pics were shot. Apparently she was crying about the lack of migrant children for her photo op. pic.twitter.com/8FMB8OQR6K
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 26, 2019
Conservative commentators quickly disseminated the photos, suggesting they proved Ocasio-Cortez’ display of sorrow was really a political stunt.
Newly uncovered photos from the border protest attended by a tearful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez show that she was crying over an empty parking lot.https://t.co/vlmVDPDoT9
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) June 26, 2019
Other social media users shared additional revealing photos. One image captured a photographer kneeling in front of Ocasio-Cortez to get the perfect angle.
— Andrew Wilkow (@WilkowMajority) June 26, 2019
A black-and-white photo indicated that the fence wasn’t as impenetrable as it initially appeared.
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) June 25, 2019
As Elliot later reported, Ocasio-Cortez and the other protestors had gathered on the road to the detention center. But he noted that the facilities “don’t appear to be within eyeshot of AOC’s vantage point, at least not close enough to see children ‘caged’ as she describes. In both directions the nearest building is barely visible. ”
Elliot added: “Perhaps that explains the tears. With a limited campaign budget, AOC didn’t have a lot of room for missed photo-op.”
Money “is not a solution”
Despite her frequent proclamations of concern for migrant children, Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday defied her party by voting against a bill to provide $4.5 billion in emergency border funding. She was one of just four liberal Democrats to do so, saying, “Throwing more money at the very organizations committing human rights abuses—and the very Administration directing these human rights abuses—is not a solution.”
Ocasio-Cortez was joined by House Republicans who said the bill sought to put too many restrictions on the president. But the legislation narrowly passed in a mostly party-line vote. Its fate is uncertain.
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