Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar hosted a press conference Monday in response to a racist series of tweets by Donald Trump over the weekend.
The four Congress members, whom some have dubbed “The Squad,” seemed to be the main targets of the tweet storm, although not named explicitly. All are women of color and were born in the U.S.—except Omar, who immigrated from Somalia, became a citizen as a teenager and went on to make history in 2018 as the first refugee to serve in Congress.
Trump told the Congress members on Twitter Saturday to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested [countries] from which they came,” along with a slew of other similar statements. “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough,” he went on. “I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Pelosi fired back: “When Donald Trump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again,” Pelosi tweeted shortly after. “Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”
Many of the women’s colleagues in Congress want to take their rebuke of Trump a step farther, now calling for a vote on a House Resolution formally condemning the President’s remarks.
Organizations like Muslim Advocates, which came to the defense of Omar, denounced the tweets as well. “Despite real-life consequences for Americans who suffer from hate crimes, hate speech and bigoted policies, Trump continues to govern as a white nationalist,” Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry, said in a statement. “If you’re not condemning this bigotry, you’re co-signing it. People of every identity and of both parties must condemn it.”
Lawmakers who were immigrants themselves, or those whose parents and grandparents were, also shared personal anecdotes on Twitter about the racism they’d experienced in the U.S. and the shock of seeing the President parrot such sentiments on the national stage.
Hillary Clinton chimed in to voice her opposition to Trump’s racist rhetoric.
The Representatives, who were elected during the so-called “pink wave” that resulted in the most diverse Congressional cohort in history, called out the posts as “xenophobic,” “racist” and the “hallmark language of white supremacists” on Twitter.
In person on Monday, they denounced the President’s racism and celebrated their collective strength and solidarity as women of color. Tlaib emphasized the importance of women banding together. “Love to ALL my sisters in service,” she said on Twitter, “at home and in Congress; we only grow stronger lifting each other up.”
Pressley also made it clear that attacks on the Squad are not just that—but instead are attacks on women and people of color across the country.
“Despite [the president’s] attempts to marginalize us and to silence us, please know that we are more than four people,” she said Monday. “We ran on a mandate to advocate for and represent those ignored, left out and left behind. Our squad is big.”