Difference of opinion

Rep. Dean Phillips: AOC’s concentration camp comments a ‘mistake’

The Jewish Democrat from Minnesota traveled to the border this month

Ståle Grut/NRKbeta

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) at SXSW 2019.

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) said border detention facilities for migrants and asylum seekers illegally crossing the border are “not” concentration camps and that conflating the two is a mistake.

His comments come in response to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) repeatedly describing the border detention camps as “concentration camps.”

“I think it was a very, very poor choice of words. I know her and I respect her and I don’t believe that her intent was to conflate German concentration camps from the Holocaust with the border camps,” Phillips said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Friday. “I think it was a mistake on her part and I do not think in her heart that it was her intention.”

The Minnesota congressman is Jewish and said that his great-grandparents fled pogroms and antisemitism in eastern Europe. Earlier this month, Phillips traveled to McAllen, Texas with Republican colleagues to see the border camps and their conditions.

“I went to these facilities just two weeks ago with five of my Republican colleagues, to see for myself. And the conditions were, to me, horrifying, an opinion shared by my colleagues. But these are not concentration camps. Any conflation of the two is an injustice, frankly, to the people who are in those facilities right now.”

On Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez defended her comments calling the border detention facilities “concentration camps,” linking to an article on Twitter by ABC News citing the detention centers being described as “torture facilities.”

“Remember when the Bush administration bullied media into using their devised term ‘enhanced interrogation’ instead of the accurate term ‘torture?’” the New York lawmaker tweeted. “Well, waterboarding was torture. And these are concentration camps. Journalism should be about the truth. And this is the truth.”

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