Female politicians told by Donald Trump to “go back” to where they came from have vowed the president’s “racism” will only spur them on to do more for minority groups they say face persecution in Mr Trump’s America.
But late on Monday the US President said it was the congresswomen who should apologise for having “spewed” what he called “foul language and racist hatred”.
It came after Mr Trump appeared to target four recently elected Democratic Party lawmakers, known in Washington circles as ‘the squad’, in tweets telling the women of colour to go back to the “broken and crime-infested places from which they came”.
He was quickly reminded the congresswomen were American citizens who had grown up in the US.
Three were born in America, while one moved to the US as a child refugee.
The tweets, which came on the same day authorities began raiding the homes of illegal migrants, quickly reunited the Democrats who have been in-fighting amid a rift between ‘the squad’ and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Ms Pelosi labelled Mr Trump’s comments part of a plan to make “America white again”.
But Mr Trump doubled down on Monday.
He tweeted it was “so sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion”. In a tweet later on Monday, he called on the women from the “Radical Left” to apologise for making Israel feel abandoned.
When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019
If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019
Who are the women in ‘the squad’?
The four women were part of a record number of females and minorities elected into the House in 2018. They are all from the left side of the Democrats, and known for being outspoken – and no strangers to conflict with Mr Trump.
A New York congresswoman, Ms Ocasio-Cortez represents the people of the 14th Congressional District, which takes in the racially diverse suburbs of Queens and the Bronx.
Born in the Bronx to an American father and Puerto Rican mother, the 29-year-old was the first woman of colour to run for congress in the district, where more than 100 different languages are spoken.
Turning against “backroom dealing” and promising to champion working-class values that benefit all not just “a wealthy few”, Ms Ocasio-Cortez has refused to accept money from lobbyists and frequently criticises Mr Trump, who she has called a “fraud” who made money not by hard work but from his inheritance.
Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States.
But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet. https://t.co/HLKQCotR8T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019
Born in Somalia and raised in the US since age 12, Ms Omar is the first Somali-American Member of Congress. She is also one of the first two Muslim women elected to the Congress and the first woman of colour to represent Minnesota.
Her life could have been very different; she and her family fled Somalia’s brutal civil war when she was aged eight.
While she has called for the creation of “just” immigration policies and a “compassionate culture”, Ms Omar has been caught up a number of times in political firestorms over comments perceived as anti-Semitic.
She has previously criticised US politicians’ support of Israel, and in 2012 referred to Israel’s “evil doings” when she tweeted that “Israel has hypnotised the world”.
In May she was blasted by Mr Trump over a comment about the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. She had said at the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles banquet that “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us [Muslims] were starting to lose access to our civil liberties”.
On Sunday (US time) Ms Omar said in response to Mr Trump’s tweets that she would continue to fight to protect America from “the worst, most corrupt and inept President we have ever seen”.
Born in Ohio, Ms Pressley was the first African-American woman elected to the House to represent Massachusetts. She previously worked for her local council and now represents the 7th congressional district including Boston and most of Cambridge.
Ms Pressley has had a tense relationship with the President since her election to office; in her victory speech she labelled Mr Trump a “racist, misogynistic, truly empathy-bankrupt man”.
Seemingly unfazed by the President’s attack on her and the rest of ‘the squad’, Ms Pressley tweeted: “THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere. Except back to DC to fight for the families you marginalise and vilify every day”.
Born in Michigan to Palestinian parents, Ms Tlaib calls herself a “proud Muslima” who works for justice. She openly supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and has called some of Israel’s policies “racist” and “inhumane”.
Prior to her election to Congress, Ms Tlaib vowed to be a leader who would stand up to Mr Trump.
Hours after being sworn in she said: “When your son looks at you and said ‘Mamma, look, you won – bullies don’t win.’ And I said, ‘Baby they don’t, because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf—er!’”
That wasn’t the first time she had publicly called for Mr Trump’s impeachment. After being elected she wrote an opinion piece in her local Detroit Free Press calling the President a “direct and serious threat to our country”.
Following the Twitter storm on Sunday, Ms Tlaib called for female leaders to grow stronger, and questioned whether Mr Trump had been trying to create a distraction from bigger issues.
.@RepKarenBass is right.
My biggest fear is that he is intentionally distracting us from the fact that ICE is knocking on doors without warrants right now.
He is distracting us from the fact that colleagues are at the border reporting on the horrific and inhumane conditions. https://t.co/fwk4677gtp
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) July 14, 2019