Trump adviser baselessly casts doubt on Ilhan Omar’s US citizenship in latest racist attack

President has repeatedly criticised congresswoman at campaign rallies

James Crump
Friday 02 October 2020 00:07 BST
Trump campaign promotes baseless allegations against Ilhan Omar's US citizenship

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Trump campaign senior adviser Steve Cortes has questioned Ilhan Omar’s US citizenship, a week after president Donald Trump’s latest racist attack on the congresswoman.

Last week, at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Mr Trump falsely implied that the Minnesota congresswoman was not American.

“She's telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How is your country doing?” the president said about Ms Omar.

The 37-year-old congresswoman, who is Somalian born, fled her country of birth to come to the US as an asylum seeker at the age of eight, and became a US citizen in 2000 when she was 17 years old.

During an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday, Mr Cortes was asked about the president’s comments by host Ayman Mohyeldin, who said: “Do you honestly think they (migrants) should be treated as less American for it and not be considered part of this country?”

Mr Cortes replied without basis: “I don’t think Ilhan Omar is any less American, assuming that her naturalisation was legitimate, and there’s a lot of questions about that.” 

He added: “She has to answer a lot of questions”.

Mr Mohyeldin interrupted and asked: “You are saying her naturalisation is not legitimate?”

After a pause, Mr Cortes said: “No, I’m saying I don’t know. But there a lot of question which she has yet to answer about marriages, about documents and she certainly needs to answer questions about these recent revelations in the Project Veritas tapes about vote stealing effectively.”

The senior adviser was referring to an investigation launched by Minneapolis police, after a video emerged of Ms Omar’s supporters allegedly collecting absentee ballots. One of the men accused, Liban Mohamed, claimed that the story is “fake news”.

Mr Cortes, who is the son of an immigrant, added: “We believe in legal immigration and legal immigration is a treasure to this country. But illegal migration is a scourge to this country and that is what we have been very clear about.”

Mr Mohyeldin then asked Mr Cortes: “You know there is no evidence that she illegally immigrated here when she came into this country? You are just throwing that out there without evidence.” He replied: “I didn’t say evidence, I said questions.”

President Trump has repeatedly attacked Ms Omar, who is one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, and falsely implied that she is not an American citizen.

At a rally last year, Mr Trump called for Ms Omar and three of her progressive colleagues in Congress, known as the “Squad”, to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

The three other women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, were all born in the US and Ms Omar is a naturalised citizen, which is a requirement to serve in Congress.

On Wednesday night, at a rally in Ms Omar’s state of Minnesota, supporters of the president chanted “lock her up,” as Mr Trump claimed that the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plans to turn the state - which has a large Somali population - into a “refugee camp” if he wins the race for the White House.

Following the president’s comments last week, Ms Omar tweeted: “Firstly, this is my country & I am a member of the House that impeached you.

“Secondly, I fled civil war when I was 8. An 8-year-old doesn’t run a country even though you run our country like one.”

The congresswoman later told CNN: “The president clearly loves to prey on people's fears.

“He spreads the disease of hate everywhere he goes, and these cult rallies that he's holding across the country are now being fuelled by fear, and it is no surprise that he is so fearful of winning Minnesota that he has to resort to this hate.”

Ms Omar added: “Not only is he a racist, but he's a racist xenophobic. Because he's not against immigration, he's just against immigrants who look like me.”

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