Ted Lieu: Suspicion of immigrants ‘un-American’
WASHINGTON – Saying that suspicion of immigrants and their families is “un-American,” Rep. Ted Lieu criticized President Donald Trump Tuesday for Trump’s recent “go back” tweets directed at four Democratic congresswomen of color — only one of whom was born outside the U.S.
“The suspicion that immigrants are not to be trusted or are unpatriotic is not just wrong; it is un-American. And dangerous,” Lieu, D-Calif., wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Sunday, Trump tweeted that the four Democrats should “go back” to fix the countries they “originally came from” before criticizing the U.S., an invocation of a long-standing on racist tropes. The comments were seemingly directed at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
Three of the congresswomen were born in the U.S. Omar immigrated to the United States over 20 years ago and is a naturalized citizen.
Trump has repeatedly doubled down on his claims while denying that his tweets and attacks are racist. The four lawmakers denounced Trump’s tweets in a press conference Monday, where they called the president’s remarks “racist,” “xenophobic,” and “bigoted.”
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The House of Representatives on Tuesday evening voted to condemn Trump’s tweets as racist, by a 240-187 vote.
Lieu noted that Trump’s remarks invoked America’s “marred” past. The California Democrat noted past doubts about the patriotism of immigrants are blemishes on America’s history, such as the ‘Yellow Peril’ hysteria in the 19th century, internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II and accusations against Jewish Americans of harboring dual loyalties.
“That brand of bigotry was at the core of Trump’s online comments attacking the patriotism of Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — insults he continued to defend on Tuesday,” Lieu wrote.
Lieu noted that the president’s remarks reminded him of an op-ed that he wrote in 1999 about the racism he experienced while wearing his U.S. Air Force uniform. The congressman immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan and is a naturalized citizen. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1995 to 1999 and currently holds a colonel rank in the Air Force Reserve.
“Just as my Air Force uniform didn’t protect me from racism then, the lapel pins worn by members of Congress didn’t shield those four representatives from Trump’s hateful venom,” he wrote.
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The U.S. has more immigrants than any other country, according to a study from Pew Research. As of 2017, a record of 44.4 million foreign-born people live in the United States. The immigrants and their descendants will drive 88 percent of the United States’ population growth through 2065, according to Pew — all statistics Lieu pointed to in his op-ed.
Lieu wrote that “the president cannot stop most of this demographic change, especially without the consent of Congress.”
Lieu argued that Trump’s comments do not reflect the views of the millions of Americans who either know or descended from immigrants.
“The United States represents hope, freedom and opportunities to those who are born here and to those who are not,” he wrote. “Those values are part of the United States’ fabric. Diversity — both in ideas and people — has always been one of the country’s greatest assets.”
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