When former President Donald Trump was in office, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to migrant housing facilities as "concentration camps" and stressed that the words "never again" have meaning. Now that the Biden administration is reopening the same Trump-era facility to hold migrant children, the progressive congresswoman is referring to detention centers as "influx facilities."
"The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are: they are concentration camps," Ocasio Cortez said via Instagram Live in June 2019. "I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that 'never again' means something."
The young lawmaker urged the public to do something about the "institutionalized practice in the Home of the Free." She later accused Trump of conducting "an authoritarian and fascist presidency."
Ocasio-Cortez emphasized that she doesn't utter controversial statements to "just throw bombs." The accusation is fired, "because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is," she insisted. "A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist, and it's very difficult to say that."
But then on Tuesday, "kids in cages" have become "influx facilities" under the Biden administration. Ocasio expressed initial outrage but afforded mercy for the current president, which Trump was denied throughout his four-year presidency.
The firebrand Democrat first reacted to the Washington Post's report that the emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas—a remnant of Trump's time that was open for one month in summer 2019—is being reactivated to hold up to 700 teenage children ages 13 to 17 at the United States-Mexico border.
The move is to accommodate the overflow of minors as the capacity of other locations are limited due to social distancing measures.
"This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Feb. 23.
The New York representative noted that it's only two months into Biden's tenure, arguing that "our fraught, unjust immigration system will not transform in that time." That's why "bold reimagination" is so important, she added.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to claim that the Department of Homeland Security "shouldn't exist," agencies should be reorganized, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has "gotta go," and for-profit detention should be banned.
Responding to her Twitter thread, author Andrew Winston raised several questions on the right path for migrant children arriving unaccompanied and the "the thousands that Trump stranded," including whether government housing will be required till permanent solutions can be found.
Ocasio replied that one "short term shift is requiring influx facilities w/ children to be licensed. Another issue is whether these services should be contracted out the way they are...[a]nd whether facilities w/ controversial records [e.g. Homestead, Florida] should even be reopened."
During the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden pledged to undo Trump's hard-line illegal immigration policies. Biden has since signed several executive orders reversing much of the Republican leader's work, also accepting unaccompanied children into the country. The change contributed to an increase of minors in government facilities, officials cited.
Biden had castigated Trump for separating families and failing to reunite households, decrying during an October debate that migrant children were "ripped from [the arms of their parents] and separated." He called the act "criminal."
But now the White House is being accused of hypocrisy. Biden press secretary Jen Psaki rejected the notion that detaining the hundreds of kids at the 66-acre site was akin to the left-wing condemnation that Trump had faced.
"Our goal is for [the migrant children] to then be transferred to families or sponsors," Psaki said at the Tuesday press briefing. "So, this is our effort to ensure that kids are not in close proximity and that we are abiding by the health and safety standards that the government has been set out."