AOC says 'fascist' Trump administration is running 'concentration camps' on US-Mexico border

She urged viewers to 'do something' about the crisis

Lily Puckett
New York
Tuesday 18 June 2019 22:30 BST
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among those leading a shake-up of the US congress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among those leading a shake-up of the US congress (Getty Images)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the United States is "running concentration camps on our southern border" during an Instagram Live stream which caused a furore.

“That is exactly what they are,” she continued, referring to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centres holding immigrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border, where at least 24 people, including six children, have died during the Trump administration. “They are concentration camps.”

Immediately anticipating backlash, the Democrat from the Bronx waved off those who aren’t “bothered” by the camps, saying: “I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something.”

“The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalised practice in the ‘Home of the Free’ is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it,” she said.

“A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist," she added, "and it’s very difficult to say that.”

Many who appeared to use the term “concentration camp” to mean “extermination camp,” referring to those camps in which victims of the Holocaust were sent to die, took issue with the video.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a concentration camp is “a site for the detention of civilians whom a regime perceives to be a security risk of some sort, independent of any judicial sentence or even indictment, that it results from actions of an executive that are not subject to judicial review.”

In a tweet Tuesday morning, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to a recent Esquire article in which several scholars argue that the definition can be applied to the detention camps run the Trump administration.

“This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying,” she wrote. “This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

Roger Berkowitz, director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College, which focuses on the work of the Origins of Totalitarianism author who herself was in an internment camp during the Nazi regime, told The Independent that, “my own view is that the camps are designed to some degree to isolate, disempower, and dehumanise their inhabitants. Part of the intent is to deter future refugees.”

“This is a humanitarian crisis and to that extent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right to sound the alarm about the camps as inconsistent with the ideals of the United States as a refuge for oppressed and poor people looking for a better life,” Mr Berkowitz continued. “Of course the United States has run concentration camps before, but these are moments in our history we should be embarrassed by. This is another such moment.”

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