During a Tuesday Q&A, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenged the language used around immigration, particularly as outlets and prominent Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz continue to discuss and emphasize a "surge" of migration.
"This is not a surge. These are children, and they are not insurgents and we are not being invaded, which by the way, is a white supremacist idea," she said in an Instagram Story, adding that the word "surge" is often used to invoke a militaristic way of looking at immigrants. "The idea that if an other is coming in the population, that this is like an invasion of who we are.”
These comments came after a follower asked why Ocasio-Cortez hasn't been "addressing the border crisis" as much as she used to. She proceeded to break down the myriad ways other issues relate to the situation at the U.S. border. "Well, we're talking about it, they just don't like how we're talking about it. Because it's not a border crisis. It's an imperialism crisis, it's a climate crisis, it's a trade crisis," the congresswoman explained. "Also, it's a carceral crisis. Because as I have already said, even during this term and this president, our immigration system is based and designed on our carceral system."
Ocasio-Cortez has been an outspoken critic of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden's approaches to immigration and incarceration. "This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party," she wrote on Twitter after The Washington Post reported that a migrant facility had been opened under the Biden administration. "Our immigration system is built on a carceral framework. It's no accident that challenging how we approach both these issues are considered 'controversial' stances."
However, many Republicans have shown outrage at the state of immigration under Biden — for opposite reasons. A group of a dozen GOP senators recently visited a facility in Texas, and although Cruz also drew attention to the inhumane living conditions, he denounced the "influx of migrant crossings" and described the people he encountered as smugglers and cartel members. Biden has responded to claims about increased migration, arguing that the "significant increase in the number of people coming to the border… happens every year."
Ocasio-Cortez says, however, says that if Republicans are really concerned about immigrants, they should consider that this topic is multipronged. Take the issue of climate change. "The U.S. has disproportionately contributed to the total amount of emissions that is causing a planetary climate crisis right now," she said on Tuesday. “It's South Asia, it's Latin America that are gonna be experiencing the floods, wildfires, and droughts in a disproportionate way, which ding ding ding, has already started a migration crisis."
Instead of creating fear-mongering around migration, we should focus on fixing these issues. Ocasio-Cortez has also created, along with Rep. Pramila Jayapal and several others, an immigration reform resolution called the Roadmap to Freedom. The proposal calls for a fair immigration process with a path to citizenship, policies that protect communities living at the border, and modernized laws with humane, community-based alternatives to detention centers.
"Sometimes I see people respond to our current immigration policy with, 'Well, what else can we do?'" Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in February. "There's a lot we can do."