Tag: ilhan omar
Is The American Dream For Everyone? Ask Ilhan Omar

Is The American Dream For Everyone? Ask Ilhan Omar

Is American citizenship conditional? The country certainly will welcome the immigrant, the newcomer — “as long as.” And that list is long. As long as you don’t criticize. As long as you don’t make a mistake. As long as you fit a certain, undefined ideal of “American.”

Watching President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night, I realized how much decorum matters only for some, and an impossible “perfection” is demanded for others who will never clear the bar.

A wild-eyed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia can stand and point and yell, interrupting the president of the United States with her disrespect, and instead of feeling any shame for acting out, will probably replicate the moment to raise money from constituents and fans who love the show.

After all, it worked in 2009 for fellow Republican representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who no doubt earned extra points because the object of his ire was Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States, a man who had to be “perfect.” That “You lie” has since been used against him doesn’t mean Wilson would change a thing.

While witnessing Greene’s act, I remembered the scene on the floor of the same Congress about a week ago, when Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota mounted a futile defense before Republicans, as predicted and promised, cast her out of its House Foreign Affairs Committee for words used to criticize policy on Israel, something she had quickly apologized for years ago.

The irony is that some of the same colleagues who ultimately voted against her — including Greene and the speaker of the House — had never felt the need to walk back their own comments, including a now deleted Kevin McCarthy tweet about Democratic donors trying to “buy” an election, employing the same trope members of the GOP and some Democrats had accused Omar of using.

Their Americanness would never be called into question.

In Omar’s presentation, I was struck by the riveting photo of herself as a child, staring straight ahead, both ready and unsure of what would come next after fleeing one war-torn country and spending years in a refugee camp in another.

That the little girl is now a congresswoman in the U.S. House of Representatives should be Exhibit No. 1 in the resilience of the American dream, the tale of someone starting out with little who has risen to the top.

But since the girl-turned-congresswoman is Ilhan Omar, a Black woman, a Muslim and born in Somalia, her story will always be suspect for some. Instead of seeing her global experience as something that could inform any debates on a committee devoted to exploring U.S. policy in the world, it has become a cudgel to threaten when she steps outside the boxes she is put into.

What has been the go-to command for politicians from Donald Trump to GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas? They never hesitate to tell the woman who is as American as they are to “go back,” to “leave.” At the same time, they are insulting the voters she won over and the Americans she represents.

And when Trump targeted her, he also included American-born Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, making clear that his test for being entitled to have a voice includes more than being born on U.S. soil.

"What opinions do you have to have to be counted as American?” Omar asked. “That is what this debate is about.”

Anyone viewing Biden’s speech had to be struck by the disconnect. It is Republicans who always complain of “angry” Americans trying to impose their will, but who never hesitate to not just display anger but revel in it.

Who is this “woke mob” Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred to in her rebuttal?

I have no idea what is “mob-like” about Americans asking for empathy for fellow citizens, for law enforcement dedicated to protecting and serving everyone in every neighborhood, for truth-telling in an inclusive history of our country, the last being something Sanders herself barred in one of her first acts as governor of a state with a lot of citizens who have been excluded. She banned the teaching of “critical race theory,” which has not been shown to have ever been taught in her state’s public schools but has become a convenient shorthand for any mention of race and racism in the study of a mythical American history.

It was Republicans in that congressional audience Tuesday night who seemed to find it darn near impossible to stand and clap for Biden’s defense of democracy and condemnation of the true “mob,” who tried to undermine it on Jan. 6, 2021.

If all those who broke windows and attacked police and tried to stop the vote-counting that day had looked like Ilhan Omar, does anyone doubt the reaction would have been quite different? Many Republicans have tried to wish away that day, showing contempt for the America they profess they are protecting from Ilhan Omar.

Despite talk of moving past the white-hot, divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump, the choice of his former press secretary to set their future with a speech that rivaled Trump’s scene of “American carnage” proves who matters in their America versus who can never complain and has to always explain.

Some, like Sanders, are obsessed with “woke fantasies.” Others strive for their own hopeful version of the American dream, where all may not agree but everyone definitely belongs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Q. Who is Ilhan Omar?

A. Ilhan Omar is a Somali-American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district.

Q. What are some of Ilhan Omar's political beliefs?

A. Ilhan Omar is a member of the Democratic Party and has been an advocate for progressive policies such as Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, and criminal justice reform.

Q. What is Ilhan Omar's position on immigration?

A. Ilhan Omar is an immigrant herself and is a vocal advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. She is host of the CQ Roll Call “Equal Time with Mary C. Curtis” podcast. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call.


McCarthy's Spineless 'Leadership' Is Destroying GOP Caucus -- And Him

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's dreams of one day becoming speaker of the House are going up in flames as the Republican caucus devolves into a raging inferno of internecine guerrilla warfare.

Specifically, House GOP radicals have turned caucus politics into an unsightly brawl more resembling the kicking, screaming, hair pulling, and spitting of a middle-school rivalry than the growing pains of major political party plotting its path to renewed relevance.

No one is more central to this uniquely embarrassing GOP drama than McCarthy, who has turned spinelessness into an ethic in his quest for power. McCarthy's moral deficit has left any members of the GOP conference who still possess a shred of integrity to condemn the actions of the extremists putting the lives of both their GOP colleagues and Democratic counterparts at risk.

It started last month with McCarthy allowing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to target as "traitors" the 13 House Republicans who voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill supported by nearly two-thirds of the country. Egged on by Greene & Co., death threats ensued, but McCarthy turned the other cheek, because speakership.

But death threats left unchecked breed more death threats and, once McCarthy proved his obsequiousness, the GOP extremists were bound to expand outward. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado got right to work, deploying Islamophobic slurs against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

After Boebert tagged Omar the "jihad squad” and McCarthy crawled under a rock, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called Boebert "TRASH" for hurling the anti-Muslim trope.

But it was Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina who would draw the next trashy moniker after she "100%" condemned Boebert's dangerous antics on CNN Tuesday. In response, Greene labeled Mace "the trash of the GOP Conference" in a Tuesday morning tweet.

Despite Mace telling CNN Tuesday that she hadn't come to Congress to name-call, the exchange devolved quickly.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene is a liar. And I’m not going to tolerate lies, racism or bigotry, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” Mace said during a Tuesday interview on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business show. “She’s crazy. She’s insane. She’s bad for the party. And I’m not going to put up with it.”

This is exactly what happens in a caucus completely devoid of moral leadership. Indeed, McCarthy has become so useless, some of the GOP's saner caucus members are actually publicly begging him to at least act like a leader.

“I think when you’re in a position of leadership, you have to stand up. You have to deal with it,” said Rep. Tom Reed of New York, one of the 13 GOP House members who voted for the infrastructure bill. “I appreciate the fact that Kevin called our colleague directly to discuss the matter with her. But at some point in time, you also have to stand up and just call it out for what it is. This type of rhetoric cannot be condoned. It cannot be upheld.”

If McCarthy had more than two brain cells to rub together, he would realize this truth: His bid for the speakership is over, particularly if he continues to let the GOP radicals roll him like a limbless log day in and day out. Last week, Greene used Rep. Matt Gaetz’s podcast to note that McCarthy doesn't have “the full support" of the caucus to be speaker.

"There’s many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats," Greene said.

It’s over, McCarthy. You appeased the radicals right into burning you at the stake.

Top Aide Quits After Greene’s Public Meltdown On Capitol Steps

Top Aide Quits After Greene’s Public Meltdown On Capitol Steps

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) lost her most senior staffer on Friday after she made a scene on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

NBC News reported Greene "instigated a shouting match with a group of House Democrats who were holding an event outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday."Greene screamed that Democrats support "murder" for supporting abortion rights.

Following the incident, Greene announced that her chief of staff had "advised" her that he would no longer be working in her office.

"I want to thank my Chief of Staff, Patrick Parsons, for helping me take the fight to the Socialist Democrats as I've transitioned into Congress. He's advised me he will be moving back into the political arena to help elect America First conservatives who can fight alongside me," she posted to Twitter.

President Joe Biden

Following Backlash, Biden Offers Reassurance On Refugee Admissions Limit

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The White House was forced to issue an explanation on Friday following strong backlash to President Joe Biden's emergency presidential declaration leaving in place a Trump-era refugee admissions cap of just 15,000, despite promising months earlier to raise it to 62,500 for the rest of the fiscal year.

"For the past few weeks, [the president] has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1," press secretary Jen Psaki wrote. "Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely."

Still, she insisted, "While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today's order did that. With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15."

The statement was met with cautious praise from lawmakers like Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), who tweeted, "While I'm heartened to learn that @POTUS still intends to increase the number of refugee admissions, I urge the admin. to move with urgency and communicate with clarity. Protecting the most vulnerable seeking a safe haven is who are, it's at the heart of our nation's values."

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C., also said in a statement, "The United States is at its best a beacon of freedom for those facing persecution around the world, setting the standard for refugee resettlement that the rest of the world watches and emulates. In this light, we are disappointed by the Biden administration's reticence to follow through on its commitment to raise the admission levels immediately, instead maintaining the previous administration's record-low admissions cap."

"We hope this action will be reversed, even as we appreciate the effort to end the discriminatory admissions categories that left vulnerable refugees in limbo," the organization added.

Lawmakers and immigration groups had expressed outrage on earlier Friday, after Biden issued the emergency presidential declaration, with many of them pointing to the president's prior pledge and others questioning his administration's reasoning justifying the move.

"There simply is no courage or political wisdom in breaking this American promise. Maintaining a cruel policy of the past will have a vast human impact on people fleeing war and persecution. This decision is ultimately an unnecessary policy and political misstep," the Immigration Hub, an advocacy nonprofit, said in a statement.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a refugee herself who came to the United States as a child, slammed the move, tweeting, "As a refugee, I know finding a home is a matter of life or death for children around the world. It is shameful that @POTUS is reneging on a key promise to welcome refugees, moments after @RepSchakowsky @RepJayapal, myself and others called on him to increase the refugee cap."

Omar was referring to a letter that she, along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), wrote to Biden earlier on Friday, calling on him to follow through with his promise to up the refugee admissions cap to 62,500. More than 30 members of Congress signed the letter, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who tweeted separately, "Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise."

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, responded to the backlash quickly, tweeting on Friday, "America needs to rebuild our refugee resettlement program. We will use all 15,000 slots under the new Determination and work with Congress on increasing admissions and building back to the numbers to which we've committed."

Psaki also issued a statement, saying the declaration was the first of many steps the administration would take to improve refugee admissions overall.

"This is just the beginning. This step lifts the restrictions put in place by prior Administration on where refugees can come from. We need to rebuild resettlement program and we are committed to continuing to increase refugee numbers," she tweeted.

A Biden administration senior official told the New York Times, however, that an uptick of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border — which Republicans have eagerly deemed a crisis — had created growing concerns within the administration, and that the immigrant children were too much for the already-overwhelmed refugee branch of the Health and Human Services department.

"The surge of migration at the border required us to ensure HHS/ORR (Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee and Resettlement), which is responsible for both unaccompanied children and refugee resettlement, had resources to adequately handle both," a senior administration official separately told the Hill.

However, as the New York Timesnoted, immigrants seeking asylum at the border are processed through a separate system than those applying for admissions from abroad. There's also a distinctly separate processing system for unaccompanied immigrant children and refugees overseas.

"The Office of Refugee Resettlement is responsible for sheltering migrant minors who cross the border but has a separate budget line for assisting refugees who come from overseas," the Times wrote. "The State Department also is the agency that assists refugees for the first three months after their arrival.

According to the Office of Refugee and Resettlement's website, the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program is indeed separate from the Unaccompanied Children Program.

The refugee program serves those fleeing persecution from other countries, while the unaccompanied minors program aids children who have already arrived and approached any U.S. border.

The Biden administration also announced Friday that it would speed up refugee admissions while rebuilding the program that the Trump administration depleted, allowing in refugees from areas of the world previously de-prioritized by Biden's predecessor.

That wasn't nearly enough to quell dissatisfaction among refugee advocates, like David Miliband, president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, who told the Times, "The rightful erasure of discriminatory admissions categories does not dispense with the need for a higher number of refugees to be admitted."

For now, Biden is expected to keep his promise to raise the refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022, the highest in 30 years. But the decision to keep the current cap in place has left a sour taste in many people's mouths.

"Trump gutted our refugee program, a cornerstone of our global leadership and values," Julián Castro, former presidential candidate and secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Obama, tweeted Friday afternoon.

"His polices can't be the default we carry on—especially for the sake of 'optics.'"

Updated to include additional comments from the Center for American Progress.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.