AOC Expertly Breaks Down Why Words About Immigration Matter

Interesting reframing of the increase in asylum seekers at the Southern border:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) gave a compelling argument on immigration policy on Tuesday, dismissing the term “border crisis” and instead calling it an “imperialism crisis” and a “climate crisis.”

While answering questions from her Instagram followers Tuesday night, Ocasio-Cortez responded to someone who asked, “Why are you not addressing the border crisis and the kids in cages like you used to?”

“Are you for real?” Ocasio-Cortez responded. “So often people wanna say, ‘Why aren’t you talking about the border crisis?’ Or ‘why aren’t you talking about it in this way?’ Well, we’re talking about it; they just don’t like how we’re talking about it.”

Ocasio-Cortez continued, saying it’s not a border crisis but rather, “It’s an imperialism crisis, it’s a climate crisis, it’s a trade crisis.” The current immigration system is based on the U.S. carceral system, she said, and the solution should be “rooted in foreign policy.”

Last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that there had been an influx of people at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, overwhelming the facilities set up to house them. Psaki said factors including the pandemic creating “undue hardships,” natural disasters, and flight from violence or persecution has contributed to the rise in people.

Ocasio-Cortez attributed the United States’ outsized role in the climate crisis to the increase of natural disasters in regions including the global south, which has ultimately forced people in those regions to leave their homes.

“The U.S. has disproportionately contributed to the total amount of emissions that is causing a planetary climate crisis right now,” Ocasio-Cortez continued on Instagram. “But who is bearing the brunt of that? … It’s actually not us.”

She continued: “It’s South Asia, it’s Latin America that are gonna be experiencing the floods, wildfires and droughts in a disproportionate way, which ding ding ding, has already started a migration crisis.”

Ocasio-Cortez also denounced calling the increased number of people crossing the border a “surge,” because of the term’s militaristic and white supremacist connotations.

“This is not a surge. These are children,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And they are not insurgents. And we are not being invaded — which by the way is a white supremacist idea, philosophy. The idea that if an other is coming in the population, that this is like an invasion of who we are.”

Last week, President Joe Biden addressed immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border during his first official press conference, including children being detained for long periods of time instead of being transferred to shelters. Biden said the increase in people migrating to the U.S. in the winter months occurs every year. (While the total number of people crossing the border is relatively similar to prior years during the same period, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border between January and February 2021 is significantly up, government data shows.)

“The reason they’re coming is that it’s the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way because of the heat in the desert, number one,” Biden said.

He proposed “putting together a bipartisan plan of over $700 million to deal with the root causes of why people are leaving” their countries. Biden also said former President Trump eliminated funding for government agencies like Health and Human Services to provide proper care for migrant families, which has led to the influx of children being detained. (NBC reported that this claim is partially true.)

Source: AOC Expertly Breaks Down Why Words About Immigration Matter

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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