Rep. Rashida Tlaib was asked Sunday to explain why she recently voted against funding for the detained migrant children she claims to care about.
She responded with a high-volume rant about how the Trump administration is “dehumanizing” migrants and the importance of her identity as a woman of color and a mother.
The exchange started when ABC’s “This Week” anchor Martha Raddatz asked the Michigan Democrat whether she agrees with her left-wing colleagues, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have taken to comparing migrant detention facilities to concentration camps.
Instead of answering the question, Tlaib started talking about the horrors she supposedly saw last Monday during a congressional tour of Border Patrol facilities on the southern border.
“I mean there’s a number of experts that say this is – because it’s traumatic,” Tlaib said. “I mean I don’t know how to explain to people what we saw when we’re explaining to people and they’re kind of looking back and saying well that can’t be true. I said but we were all there, I mean you have Congressman Castro, Melanie, Norma, all of us were there. We saw what we saw and we heard from the folks that were in the facilities, and some of them had not seen their children since being there.”
“What you need to also know is do you know the mere touch, the mere even me holding the hand broke them down in tears,” Tlaib added. “That tells you they’re under a lot of trauma that they are in a facility that is dehumanizing. And you know, this is a choice by the current administration, they are choosing to not allow asylum seekers to go through the legal process. They’re choosing to separate –”
Raddatz followed up by asking Tlaib why she had opposed a $4.6 emergency bill allocating funds to address the border crisis. The bill passed anyway last Thursday with bipartisan backing, and most of the money is going to unaccompanied migrant children.
“Congresswoman, I want to stop you here for just a second. McAleenan has been sounding the alarm for months for resources to help the migrants, you voted against the $4.6 billion emergency border bill to deal with the surge of migrants, that included almost $3 billion to provide shelter and care for unaccompanied children,” Raddatz said, raising her voice. “Acting [Homeland Security Secretary Kevin] McAleenan says those funds are critical to get children out of CBP custody and transfer, even if the bill didn’t have what you wanted.”
“Well I’m proud – I –,” Tlaib stuttered in response. “Exactly but listen to this, do you know what the CBP agents said on the ground, though, Martha?”
“Just answer this”
“Isn’t opposing aid contributing to this crisis?” Raddatz replied
“Martha? Martha, do you know what they said?” Tlaib asked.
“Just answer this,” Raddatz said.
Tlaib went on to claim that Border Patrol officers personally told her they didn’t need money to address the border crisis. Her claims contradicted what officials have said publicly and what agents told The New York Times as part of an investigation published this week.
“Three agents took me aside, away from my colleagues and said more money is not going to fix this, that they were not trained to separate children, that they don’t want to separate two year olds away from their mothers,” Tlaib said. “That’s not what they were trained for, that’s not what they signed up for in their service to our country. They signed up to protect the border, not to separate children, not to put people in cages.”
Raddatz then asked Tlaib about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s scathing comments about the “no” voters in an interview Saturday with The Times.
The congresswoman responded by noting that she, Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, are “people of color.” She said Pelosi should understand that they are “closest to the pain” and so should be “at the table making these decisions.”
“Guess what, we know what it feels like to be dehumanized. We know what it feels like to be brown and black in this country,” she said. “And I’ll tell you right now, we’re not going to stand by, and sit idly by, and allow brown and dark-skinned children to be ripped away from their parents and dehumanized.”
Rashida Tlaib and the border funding bill battle
Ocasio-Cortez, who along with Tlaib, was one of four Democrats who opposed the border funding bill, has explained her position in similar terms.
“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 said in a statement after the vote.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Rep. Dan Crenshaw called out progressive Democrats for their lack of consistency on the issue.
“Let’s not forget, they fought us tooth and nail against that $4.5 million of humanitarian aid that the president needed, that DHS needed, that HHS needed, in order to better conditions at these facilities,” Crenshaw told Fox. “They fought us for months on this. They said there was no crisis. We asked for a vote in the House 17 times. They refused to do it. … AOC talks about these things, I don’t see them offering up any space in their own homes. They are not offering a better solution. They are not saying, ‘Why don’t we put them all up at a hotel?”