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From left: U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. J. Scott Applewhite
The squad

Who are the progressive congresswomen Trump tweeted should 'go back' to where they came from?

Trump said they should ‘go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came’.

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump tweeted remarks last Sunday that critics have labelled as racist, saying that “progressive” Democrat congresswomen should go back to where they came from. 

He did not refer to the women by name, but it is accepted that this attack was directed at four congresswomen known as ‘the squad’ who recently had a run in with Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

In his tweets, Trump told them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. 

The women involved are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. 

The women are all pushing for progressive changes such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for all. 

Tlaib responded to Trump’s initial statements by tweeting that he “needs to be impeached”.

Ocasio-Cortez said: “The country I ‘come from’, and the country we all swear to, is the United States.” 

Omar called Trump “the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen”.

Pressley said: “This is what racism looks like. We are what democracy looks like.”

Earlier today, Trump tweeted that the women have been “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate” and they should be rebuked for these alleged statements. 

The ‘squad’ were the only democrats to vote against a bill that had new conditions for the treatment of asylum seekers crossing the border. They voted against it to block additional funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which they are all in favour of abolishing.

Trump announced last month that ICE would be conducting raids on “illegal aliens” living in the US. These raids have been taking place in recent weeks. 

So who exactly are these four women?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

  • US Representative for New York’s 14th district.
  • Born in the Bronx. 

Ocasio-Cortez, commonly referred to as ‘AOC’, is a US representative for a New York district that includes some of the Bronx and Queens. 

She achieved this position in June 2018, becoming the youngest woman ever to serve on the US Congress. She is 29 years old. 

She is active on social media, particularly Twitter where she has over 4.7 million followers. She has 3.8 million Instagram followers and thousands of people often watch her Instagram Live videos where she makes soup or re-pots her houseplants. 

She advocates for Medicare for everyone, a federal jobs guarantee, free public college and a 70% marginal tax rate for incomes above $10 million (€8.9 million). 

Ocasio-Cortez was working as a waitress and bartender until she ran for Congress in 2018. Her mother was born in Puerto Rico and her father was born in the Bronx to a Puerto-Rican family. 

During her college years, she was an intern for US Senator Ted Kennedy and in 2016, she was an organiser for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

She was nominated by her brother Gabriel to run for Congress in 2018. It was the first time in 14 years that someone had challenged Joe Crowley, the Democratic Caucus Chair in the primary elections.

She beat him with 57% of the total votes. He received just under 43%. 

In the general election, she faced Republican nominee Anthony Pappas in November. She won the election with 78% of the vote. 

This win was part of a wider democratic sweep across the 2018 midterm elections which led to the party gaining control of the House of Representatives.

She submitted her first piece of legislation in February 2019 in the form of the Green New Deal. This would phase out fossil fuel and overhaul US infrastructure over a 10 year period. 

Ilhan Omar

  • US Representative for Minnesota’s 5th district.
  • Born in Somalia.

Omar is the US Representative for a Minnesota district that includes Minneapolis and some of its suburbs. 

She was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016 and elected to the US House of Representatives in 2018.

She is the first Somali-American, non-white woman from Minnesota as well as one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. 

She focuses on living wages, affordable housing, and abolishing ICE. She opposes Trump’s immigration policies such as the travel ban. 

Omar fled Somalia with her family in the late 1980s to escape the war. They spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before arriving to New York in 1992. 

Her family settled in Minneapolis a couple of years later after securing asylum in the US. She became a US citizen in 2000, aged 17. 

She was involved in some financial controversy in 2018 after Republican representative Steve Drazkowski accused Omar of using campaign funds for a divorce lawyer and a personal trip to Estonia and other US locations. 

In June 2019, Minnesota campaign finance officials rules that Omar had to return $3,500 she spent on travel and to pay a $500 fine.  

She filed to run for the House of Representatives in June 2018 and won the August primary with 48% of the vote. 

In the November 2018 general election, she won 78% of the vote. 

When asked for her plans in an interview on The Daily Show, she said: “I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare.”

She has a cross-stitch of that line framed in her congressional office now, according to the Washington Post. 

Ayanna Pressley 

  • US Representative for Massachusetts’ 7th district.
  • Born in Ohio. 

Pressley has been a US Representative since 2019. Her district includes part of Boston, Cambridge and Milton. 

She defeated long-term representative Mike Capuano in the primary elections and ran uncontested in the general election. She is the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. 

Pressley interned for US Representative Joseph P Kennedy II and worked as a district representative for him after leaving Boston University. 

She was elected to Boston City Council in 2009, becoming the first woman of colour to serve on this council. 

She continued working on the council until announcing her run for the US House of Representatives in January 2018. 

In the September primary election, Pressley defeated her opponent 59% to 41%. She won the general election unopposed. 

She supports most of the same policies as the other members of ‘the squad’. 

She also proposed to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 earlier this year in Congress but the amendment was defeated. 

Rashida Tlaib

  • US Representative for Michigan’s 13th district. 
  • Born in Detroit. 

Tlaib is the US Representative for a district that includes parts of Detroit since being sworn in earlier this year. 

She represented different districts in the Michigan House of Representatives before being elected to Congress. She was the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature. 

She won the Democratic nomination for the US House of Representatives in 2018 and ran unopposed in the general election, becoming the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and the second of the two Muslim women elected to Congress along with Ilhan Omar.

Tlaib began her political career in 2004 after interning with State Representative Steve Tobocman. She was hired to his staff in 2007.

She ran for Tobocman’s seat in 2008 after his encouragement when he was leaving. She won over 44% of the vote and won the general election with over 90% of the vote. 

She was contested in the 2010 primary election but won 85% of the vote and went on to win the general election.

She was re-elected in 2012 to the Michigan House but couldn’t run again in 2014 due to term limits. She ran instead for the Michigan Senate but lost to another Senator in the primary. 

She worked at a Detroit nonprofit company that provides legal representation to workers after leaving the House before announcing her intention to run for US Congress in 2018. 

In the primary for the special election, she finished second before winning the general election in November. 

She has advocated for Trump’s impeachment and a $15 hourly minimum wage. She has been critical of the Israeli government and human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.

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