- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar said she doesn’t understand why Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling immigrant detention facilities “concentration camps” has been so controversial, seeing that people are “being concentrated” there.

“There are camps and people are being concentrated,” Ms. Omar told The Rebel Media on Friday. “This is very simple. I don’t even know why this is a controversial thing for her to say.

“We have to really, truthfully speak about what’s taking place,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “And this is why it is really important for us to abolish [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and make sure that we have an agency that is accountable to the people, that is dealing with the situation in a humane way.

“There’s no way that we can allow for kids to be caged in this country and children to be separated from their families and people being terrorized in their communities,” she added. “We have to make sure that we are calling it out, and I am 100% with Alex.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez sparked widespread criticism last week after she repeatedly accused the U.S. government of “running concentration camps on our southern border.” She has refused to apologize for her use of the term, saying she is “calling these camps what they are because they fit squarely in an academic consensus and definition.”

Ms. Omar similarly defended Ms. Ocasio-Cortez during a Thursday interview on Public Radio International, saying the congresswoman’s use of the term fits the “general definition.”

“When you look at what is taking place, people are being put in camps,’ Ms. Omar said. “And when you think about the definition, if we separate it from death camps, I would say these are camps and people are being concentrated in them.

“I think a lot of people are conflating what a death camp looks like or a specific removal of people,” Ms. Omar continued. “These people are coming to the border. We are removing them from the border. We are placing them in camps. Some of them are being removed from communities and being put in what we’re calling detention centers — but are essentially camps. There has to be a way for us to have this conversation without calling people names and accusing them of things when they are just having a general honest conversation on how detrimental this is.

“When you talk about the process of de-humanizing people so that you can exterminate them, there is a process,” she added. “When you are constantly engaging in the kind of rhetoric this administration has engaged in — when it comes to immigrants and people who are seeking asylum and refugees — we have to be alarmed. It is very worrisome. When we say “never again,” that means we have to be vigilant that that doesn’t happen under our watch as we stay politically correct and try to find the proper words to use or even worse look the other way.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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