Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congressional hopeful who made national headlines for defeating a 10-time incumbent in a primary race last month, is increasing her calls for protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
Weeks after her surprising victory over U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley on the strength of her democratic socialist platform, she expounded on her views in an interview this week.
Speaking to those who oppose U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ocasio-Cortez defended her decision to visit the border days before the primary election as part of a demonstration she said needs to expand in order to affect national change.
Saying that there is “no convenient time” to “stand up against human rights violations,” she said that it was important for her to leave her district to protest with those at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I may have had a primary three days after I went down there, but we’re not going to win if we don’t stand for everything,” she said. “We have to show people that we’re willing to walk the walk and put our money where our mouth is.”
As part of her plan for the future of the so-called “Abolish ICE” movement, the 28-year-old candidate said those in opposition of the current immigration policy must “occupy” every point of entry into the U.S.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 18, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez went on to describe what she said was the nation’s “moral crisis,” referring specifically to the family separations that occurred as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
“Every day that we allow the continued violation of those children’s rights is the day that I believe the moral character of the United States is at stake,” she said.
In response, she said those aligned with her view should make their grievances known through widespread and disruptive demonstrations nationwide.
“We have to occupy all of it,” she said, encouraging activists to push for a “rapid response” to their concerns.
Ocasio-Cortez elaborated on her call for demonstrations, mentioning “every airport,” “every border” and “every ICE office” as scenes for protests “until those kids are back with their parents, period.”
Though “Abolish ICE” has been a controversial movement since it grew out of the policy implemented earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez said the effort is largely misunderstood by its critics.
“First of all, ICE is not (U.S. Customs and Border Protection),” she said. “When we talk about abolishing ICE, we’re talking about ending family detention.”
She added her belief that ICE is “not accountable to the U.S. Department of Justice” despite “often tak(ing) on things that look a lot like enforcement activities.”
According to Ocasio-Cortez, given ICE’s status “outside of the accountability of the Department of Justice, it’s no surprise to see the violation of civil and human rights that we’re seeing right now.”
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