WASHINGTON – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been outspoken about the Trump administration’s treatment of migrants crossing into the U.S. via the southern border with Mexico and about undocumented immigrants living in the United States currently.
The New York Democrat has repeatedly called for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished.
And now, Ocasio-Cortez says she thinks that the Department of Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over ICE, should be eliminated as well.
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In an interview with the New Yorker, the progressive lawmaker said she believes the core structure of ICE and the DHS “are extrajudicial, that they lack effective oversight” and “it is baked into the core foundational structure of these agencies.”
When asked whether she would get rid of DHS, she said: “I think so.”
“I think we need to undo a lot of the egregious mistakes that the Bush Administration did,” she said. “I feel like it is a very qualified and supported position, at least in terms of evidence and in terms of being able to make the argument that we never should have created D.H.S., in the early 2000s.”
No ‘distinguished’ relationship with Pelosi
Amid intra-party bickering between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several freshmen congresswomen, including Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat said she doesn’t believe she really has a relationship with the House speaker.
“I think sometimes people think that we have this, like, we have a relationship,” she said during the interview.
When asked whether she does, Ocasio-Cortez said: “Not particularly.”
“Not one that’s, I think, distinguished from anyone else,” she said.
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She added that the last time she spoke to Pelosi one-on-one was when the House speaker asked her to join the select committee on climate change. Ocasio-Cortez said she did not join the panel because she had several requests regarding the committee which were not accommodated: that the committee have a legislative mission that included drafting legislation by 2020, that it have subpoena power and that members of the select committee not take any money from the fossil fuel industry.
In addition, she said that her committee assignments that she was ultimately given have been “very intense and very rigorous.” Ocasio-Cortez serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Oversight Committee.
“I was assigned to two of some of the busiest committees and four subcommittees,” she said. “So my hands are full.”
“And sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to keep me busy,” she added, laughing.
No 2020 endorsements just yet
In 2016, Ocasio-Cortez was an organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Now the Vermont senator is running again, but Ocasio-Cortez has not endorsed him just yet.
However, she has worked on legislation with him and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Ocasio-Cortez said she has been approached by several candidates seeking her endorsement. She said she tells them all the same thing: “I’m not endorsing anybody for some time.”
“I certainly don’t want to endorse anyone this year,” she said, but she noted that she will likely make an endorsement before the Democratic nomination is locked in. “You know, I think we need to have debates. I think we need to have a national conversation. And also, I need to do my job.”
Ocasio-Cortez also commented on former Vice President Joe Biden’s and Sen. Kamala Harris’ debate performance late last month.
The freshman congresswoman said she thinks it was fair that Harris confronted Biden on his comments about working with segregationist Democrats during his time in Congress and about his stance on busing decades ago.
More: Penalizing candidates who interrupt, and other changes coming to the Democratic debates
“I absolutely think she was fair,” Ocasio-Cortez said of Harris. “And I think this is also part of a larger discussion, and that issues of race and gender are not extra-credit points in being a good Democrat. They are a core part of the competencies that a President needs.”
However, the New York Democrat said that past criticism of Harris has been warranted and she wants to learn about the California senator’s worldview.
Ocasio-Cortez said that Biden’s debate performance called into question whether he is capable of being president due to his age.
“His performance on the stage kind of raised some questions with respect to that,” she said. Biden is 76 years old.
However, if Biden is the Democratic nominee, Ocasio-Cortez said “I will do what I can” to help beat President Donald Trump in 2020.
“Well, we need to defeat this President.” she told the New Yorker, “And so, to the extent that I could be helpful in that, you know, I will do what I can.”
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