Mayor Bill de Blasio said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was wrong to describe the Trump administration’s migrant detention facilities as “concentration camps.”
“Of course she was wrong,” the mayor and presidential candidate said in an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon.
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Ocasio-Cortez has drawn criticism for using the term to refer to the detention facilities holding thousands of migrants near the southern border.
“This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying,” she said on Twitter.
The Congresswoman, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, did not specifically invoke the Holocaust, and the term has been used throughout history to refer to other mass detention camps, but critics accused her of inappropriately drawing a parallel to the Nazi genocide.
“You cannot compare. What the Nazis did in the concentration camps unfortunately is without any historical [parallel]. It’s a horrible moment. There’s no way to compare it,” de Blasio said.
He added of Ocasio-Cortez, who shook up New York politics with her surprise election win last year, “I respect her greatly, and I feel very close to her in terms of philosophy.”
During the same appearance, de Blasio again blasted fellow candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden for citing his work with two segregationist senators as an example of a time when opposing politicians could work together to get things done.
One of the senators, James Eastland, was a vocal opponent of interracial marriage, which he referred to as “mongrelization.”
“It is entirely personal for me, and I think it’s personal for millions and millions of Americans,” said de Blasio, whose wife, Chirlane McCray, is African-American.
“James Eastland literally thought my wife and I should not have the legal right to marry, and … that our children should not be on this earth. That’s how personal it is to me,” the mayor said. “When you hear that coming from someone who wants to be the standard bearer of our party, it makes you ask the question, ‘How on earth does he not understand?’”