US President Donald Trump on Sunday told unnamed Democratic Congresswomen to “go back” where they came from, prompting senior members of the party to brand him a “racist” and a xenophobe.
It is the latest controversial comment by Trump, who last year reportedly referred to countries in Africa as “shithole” nations, and who has spoken of “an invasion” of undocumented migrants.
In a tweet, Trump referred to “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen,” which appeared to be a reference to a group of outspoken relatively young, liberal women, all first-time members of the House of Representatives.
These include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Trump did not say whom he was referring to but said they “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.”
He accused the women of “viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”?
Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in New York, has ancestry from Puerto Rico, a US territory.
Tlaib, who was born in Detroit, is the first American of Palestinian descent elected to Congress.
Omar, who fled war-torn Somalia as a child and came to the United States as a refugee, is the first black Muslim woman in Congress.
“That’s a racist tweet,” Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Lujan, the highest-ranking Latino member of Congress, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“These are American citizens elected by voters in the United States of America.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned her party to avoid the “menace” of liberal policies pushed by Ocasio-Cortez and the other progressives, if the Democrats hope to beat Trump in the 2020 election.
But on Twitter Sunday she criticized Trump’s “attack.”
“I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation,” she said.
Pelosi added that Trump’s comments reaffirmed “his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim civil rights group, condemned Trump’s comments.
“It is sad to see the occupant of the Oval Office transition from empowering and encouraging racist taunts to actually using them himself,” said the group’s national executive director, Nihad Awad.
“If Trump shouted the same thing at a Muslim woman wearing hijab in a Walmart, he might be arrested.”
© Agence France-Presse