VP Pence Calls Out Ocasio-Cortez for Comparing US Border Facilities to Concentration Camps

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 8, 2019 Updated: July 10, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence has criticized Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for comparing U.S. border facilities with “concentration camps,” describing the comments as “an outrage.”

“To compare the humane work of dedicated men and women of Customs and Border Protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage,” Pence said. “The Nazis took lives. American law enforcement saves lives every day.”

He continued, “Make no mistake about it, this slander of law enforcement was an insult to the six million killed in the Holocaust. And it should be condemned by every American of every political party everywhere.”

Pence made the comments during the Christians United for Israel summit in Washington on July 8. During his speech, he lauded the Trump administration’s progress in protecting Israel and condemning anti-semitism.

At one point in his remarks, he brought up Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks without identifying the freshman congresswoman.

“We must never allow the memory of those lost in the Holocaust to be cheapened as a cliche to advance some left-wing political narrative,” he said. “Sadly in recent weeks, that’s exactly what some Democrats have done in the national debate. Last month, a leading Democrat in Congress actually compared our U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facilities to concentration camps. And her allies in Congress, the Left, and the media shamefully came to her defense.”

Ocasio-Cortez drew widespread criticism for her comments made during an Instagram live video on June 17, where she linked Nazi camps holding Jews to describe the holding facilities at the southern border by using the phrase “Never again”—a term that is synonymous with crimes committed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II.

Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during a meeting of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

She was then criticized by many commentators and politicians, who argued that border facilities don’t constitute concentration camps because anyone in them is free to leave if they depart the country.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) called out the freshman lawmaker, saying, “Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.”

Similarly, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has also denounced the practice of “efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events,” without directly referring to the freshman congresswoman.

“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary. That position has repeatedly and unambiguously been made clear in the Museum’s official statement on the matter–a statement that is reiterated and reaffirmed now. The link to the Museum’s statement is here,” the museum said in a statement in June.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite the criticism, some journalists and politicians came to Ocasio-Cortez’s defense, saying that they agreed with her characterization of the border facilities. The latest politician to openly express their support for the congresswoman was a fellow congresswoman, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

“Absolutely, I mean there’s a number of experts that say this is … because it’s traumatic,” Tlaib told ABC’s This Week on July 7 when asked whether she agreed with Ocasio-Cortez’s comparison.

During his speech on July 8, Pence vowed that the president will always “honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and he will always honor the service of the brave men and women of law enforcement.”

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.