Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday that her characterization of migrant detention centers as “concentration camps” has created a conversation to deter such a tragedy from happening again.
“This is an opportunity for us to talk about how we learn from our history in order to prevent it from ever happening in any form, at any step, whether it’s a concentration camp, or whether it’s the final steps of that phase from happening,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” on Thursday.
“And even at the earliest steps we have to make sure that dehumanizing and ‘never again’ means never again for anyone,” she added, referencing a phrase commonly invoked by Jews about the Holocaust.
Ocasio-Cortez accused President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this month of running “concentration camps” in its detention of migrants at the southern border.
“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are – they are concentration camps,” Ocasio-Cortez told an Instagram Live audience at the time. “And if that doesn’t bother you … I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not, that ‘never again’ means something.”
She also referenced during the Instagram Live how some migrant children were being held in facilities formerly used to detain Japanese Americans during World War II. The New York Democrat faced condemnation from both sides of the aisle for her use of the term, which is most commonly associated with Nazi death camps during the Holocaust but does have a broader definition.
Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday that she had communicated with Holocaust survivors on how use of migrant detention centers “is not the same thing” as the Nazi genocide against the Jews.
But she stood firm that acknowledging the experiences of Japanese American detainees and migrants at the southern border was central to discussing the issue.
“When we talk about concentration camps, if we do not also talk about Japanese internment, if we don’t talk about the Boer War, if we don’t talk about the many times this has happened in the history of humanity, we also erase the suffering of those people,” she added
As a result, Ocasio-Cortez said that she would continue to use the term to describe the situation befalling migrants, as the Department of Homeland Security has been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of migrants illegally crossing the southern border
“I believe we also have made sure that we explicitly use the term ‘concentration camp’ and we have to learn from the slow process, the slow dehumanizing process that leads to horrible things happening to people,” she added.