On Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, shot back at President Donald Trump for his tweets suggesting members of “The Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — should “go back where they came from.”
“I’ve personally been told that, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ You, too,” Harris said. “It is vile. It is ignorant. It is shallow. It is hateful. And it has to stop.”
Yet after waxing eloquent about the contributions immigrants bring to America, and repeating the motto E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one — Harris responded, “And he needs to go back to where he came from!”
On November 3, 2020, I am going to send Donald Trump back to where he came from. pic.twitter.com/t1oAD7s5Od
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 17, 2019
This is an ironically fitting response, because three of the members of “The Squad” were born in America, and Ocasio-Cortez comes from the same city Trump does. However, suggestions that Trump’s tweets were racist ignore the broader context of the battle between “The Squad” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Trump even said that Pelosi would pay for travel arrangements. The president was suggesting that people who criticize the United States with ugly rhetoric — calling ICE detention centers “concentration camps,” for example — might do well to live in a country they do not seem to hate.
But his comments also had an ugly anti-immigrant taste. Suggesting that one’s political opponents are somehow un-American and should leave the country sends a bad message to immigrants, especially those who dare disagree with the president. Even though “The Squad” has pushed anti-American messages, the “go back to where you came from” rhetoric is ugly, especially since so many of them come from the U.S.
If Kamala Harris thinks Trump’s comments are un-American, is she suggesting that he represents a foreign interest and should, therefore, leave the U.S.? If Trump’s tweets were anti-immigrant — despite being applied to three native-born Americans — isn’t Harris’s response also anti-immigrant?
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.