“I don’t care if you’re undocumented.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said during a town hall in New York on Saturday that President Donald Trump is to blame for “creating undocumented populations in the United States.”
The freshman Democrat made the counterintuitive claim at a town hall at a community center in Queens. She was responding to an audience member who reported being “distressed” by how the Trump administration and the media allegedly vilify immigrants.
Emotionally agreeing with the questioner, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that by slowing down the processing of visas, the president has forced immigrants to enter the country illegally.
WATCH: MSNBC Hosts Put up Framed Mueller Photo in Their House
“It is completely unjust. And so the whole legal system right now and the way that the president is choosing to administer and grind all of the agencies to a halt that process legal forms of immigration is forcing people into the shadows, and he is creating undocumented populations in the United States, and then they are being targeted and their rights are being violated. So, that’s what’s actually going on,” she said, gesturing emphatically.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that it is not fundamentally important to her whether immigrants come to the United States legally or illegally, because everyone is human.
“First of all I believe in human rights,” she said, pausing for applause. “I don’t care if you’re documented. I don’t care if you’re undocumented. I don’t care if you’re out here. I don’t care if you’re at Rikers [Island prison in Queens]. I believe in your fundamental human rights – fundamental human rights.”
Ocasio-Cortez has often railed against President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, as well as immigration enforcement in general, in moralistic terms. At an event in February, she reiterated her calls for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be abolished, saying that the agency is racist and has “systematically violated human rights.”
She added, largely inaccurately, that Hispanic immigrants are native to the United States, and so cannot be prosecuted based on their “identity.”
Despite her focus on Trump, Ocasio-Cortez’s seeming rejection of a distinction between legal and illegal immigration would have been radical under any modern U.S. administration. At one point during her lengthy answer on Saturday, she even used air quotes to refer to “our legal, documented path” for immigration.
WATCH: Ocasio-Cortez and Socialism Get Scorched With Facts