Rep. Tlaib Says She 'Absolutely' Agrees That Detention Centers Are Comparable to Concentration Camps

Melanie Arter | July 8, 2019 | 11:11am EDT
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(Photo by Christ Chavez/Getty Images)

( - Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” on Sunday that she “absolutely” agrees with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s assertion that Customs and Border Protection detention centers are comparable to concentration camps.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, your colleague who was at the border with you compared the facilities to a concentration camp. Do you agree with that comparison?” ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked.


“Absolutely,” Tlaib responded. “I mean there’s a number of experts that say this is – because it’s traumatic. I mean I don’t know how to explain to people what we saw when we’re explaining to people and they’re kind of looking back and saying, well that can’t be true. I said, but we were all there, I mean you have Congressman Castro, Melanie, Norma. All of us were there.

“We saw what we saw, and we heard from the folks that were in the facilities, and some of them had not seen their children since being there. What you need to also know is, do you know the mere touch, the mere even me holding the hand broke them down in tears? That tells you they’re under a lot of trauma that they are in a facility that is dehumanizing,” she said.



“And you know, this is a choice by the current administration, they are choosing to not allow asylum seekers to go through the legal process,” the congresswoman said.

In an Instagram Live video last month, AOC said, “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are -- they are concentration camps."

"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 said. "The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it.”

“Congresswoman, I want to stop you here for just a second. [Acting DHS Secretary Kevin] McAleenan has been sounding the alarm for months for resources to help the migrants. You voted against the $4.6 billion emergency border bill to deal with the surge of migrants, that included almost $3 billion to provide shelter and care for unaccompanied children. Acting Secretary McAleenan says those funds are critical to get children out of CBP custody and transfer, even if the bill didn’t have what you wanted,” Raddatz said.

“Well I’m proud ... exactly, but listen to this, do you know what the CBP agents said on the ground, though Martha?” Tlaib asked.

“Isn’t opposing aid contributing to this crisis?” Raddatz asked.

Tlaib said the CBP agents she talked to said they weren’t trained to separate children.

“What did they say on the ground? Ask a CBP agent. That’s the one thing. I can talk to the secretary, and he can say throw more money at a broken system, at an inhumane system,” the congresswoman said.

“Three agents took me aside, away from my colleagues and said more money is not going to fix this, that they were not trained to separate children, that they don’t want to separate two-year-olds away from their mothers. That’s not what they were trained for, that’s not what they signed up for in their service to our country,” she said.

“They signed up to protect the border, not to separate children, not to put people in cages. They all said this is a broken system, this is inhumane. I mean these are also human beings, these are also fathers and mothers themselves. A woman – I met an agent who’s a mother of five. They all don’t want to be doing this. They all know this is a choice,” Tlaib said.

The congresswoman said more illegal immigrants were crossing the border in the 80s, and they weren’t handled the same way.

“And let’s be honest right here, Martha, in the ‘80s, it was more that was coming across the border,and we didn’t do this. We allowed the asylum seekers to go through the legal process. We allowed community-based agencies to take the lead and show us evidence-based approaches to making sure that people are in humane conditions, that they have medical care, that they are not going to go hungry,” Tlaib said.

“I mean this father told me he was there for four days, and he’s just been eating potato chips, but more importantly he was gripping his son telling me ‘I just want my son to be an American boy. I’m here, because I have no other choice,” the congresswoman said.

“And I can tell you as a – as a mother of two but also as a child of immigrant – immigrant parents, I know my parents would have done the same thing for me to have a better future, but what our country is doing is creating a generation of children that will remember what our country did to them,” she said.

“And that to me – I will not vote for something that is broken and deteriorated and is inhumane. That is a choice that I make and a conscious choice, and I can tell you my district supports me 100 percent, because they know this system is broken, they know that these agents, again, many of them overworked, suicide is up among CBP agents,” Tlaib said.

“Look at the numbers. Look at the inspector general’s report. All of us can’t be lying. All of us cannot be saying – we’re all saying the same thing, that it’s broken,” the congresswoman said.

“So when I voted against it, when many of us voted against it – several – three I think, four or five of us voted against it, it was because we knew this was not the choice that we needed our country to move forward on. There is a better choice and we’ve seen it in the ‘80s, we need to do better than what we’re doing now at the border,” she said.


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