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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York asserted that migrants seeking to enter the United States at the southern border are “acting more American” than any person who is seeking to keep them out, including President Donald Trump.
The freshman Democrat’s remarks came in response to Trump’s prime-time Oval Office address to the nation, during which he made his case for increased funding to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The president is seeking $5.7 billion to construct approximately 230 miles in new physical barrier along the border, as well as nearly $6 billion to hire more border patrol agents and immigration judges and for the housing, medical and transportation costs associated with those detained at the border.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” after Trump’s speech, Ocasio-Cortez accused the chief executive of holding the federal government hostage for the sake of fulfilling a “campaign fantasy.”
“In the actual address, there was falsehood after falsehood and we have to make sure that we get our facts straight. Everyday immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than native-born Americans,” the representative said.
“And not only that, but the women and children on the border seeking refuge and opportunity in the U.S. with nothing but the shirt on their backs are acting more American than any person who seeks to keep them out ever will be.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the shutdown and Trump's address: "The women and children on the border seeking refuge and opportunity in the U.S. with nothing but the shirt on their backs are acting more American than any person who seeks to keep them out ever will be." pic.twitter.com/VrJcEEmyLW
— Axios (@axios) January 9, 2019
During his address, Trump did not claim illegal immigrants were engaging in criminal activity at a higher rate than American citizens, but his thrust clearly was no American should ever have to be the victim of someone who should not be in the country at all.
According to a study by the libertarian Cato Institute, police in Texas arrested over 815,600 native-born Americans, over 37,700 illegal immigrants, and over 20,300 legal immigrants in 2015. The study found for every 100,000 people in each subgroup, there were 3,578 arrests of native Americans, 2,149 arrests of illegal immigrants, and 698 arrests of legal immigrants. According to Cato, the overall arrest rate for illegal aliens was 40 percent below that of native-born Americans.
Trump would likely point out one reason for the lower arrest rate by Texas police among the illegal immigrant community is thanks to the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
“In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings,” he said during his Oval Office address.
“Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now,” he added.
Trump offered multiple specific instances, including California police officer Ronil Singh who was killed the day after Christmas by an illegal immigrant and suspected gang member. Singh left behind a wife and 5-month-old son.
In Fiscal Year 2018, ICE made over 10,000 suspected gang member arrests and deported approximately 5,800 suspected gang members.
Ocasio-Cortez argued that the Trump administration should not receive additional funds for securing the border given it is guilty of human rights violations, Fox News reported.
Apparently referring to Customs and Border Patrol, she said, “The president should not be asking for more money to an agency that has systematically violated human rights.”
She continued: “The president should be really defending why we are funding such an agency at all because right now, what we are seeing is death.”