Watch CBSN Live

Lindsey Graham and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spar over migrant crisis

Trump defends tear gas use against migrants
Trump defends tear gas use against migrants 03:10

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham urged congresswoman-elect and progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum after she compared the Central American migrants seeking asylum at the southern border to different groups of refugees, including Jewish families fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany.  

Reacting to news of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents using tear gas to repel and disperse migrants, including women and children, who rushed towards the border fence between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, on Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that applying for refugee status in America is not a crime.

"It wasn't for Jewish families fleeing Germany. It wasn't for targeted families fleeing Rwanda. It wasn't for communities fleeing war-torn Syria," the New York City Democrat wrote. "And it isn't for those fleeing violence in Central America."

Responding to her post on Monday, Graham, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, said his future colleague should "take a tour" of the Holocaust Museum in Washington to "better understand the differences between the Holocaust and the caravan in Tijuana."

The congresswoman-elect, known for her use of social media to rebuke many of her detractors in politics and the media, fired back later in the day. Replying to Graham's tweet, Ocasio-Cortez wrote that "the point of such a treasured museum is to bring its lessons to present day."

"This administration has jailed children and violated human rights," she added. "Perhaps we should stop pretending that authoritarianism + violence is a historical event instead of a growing force."

And the self-described "democratic socialist" didn't stop there. Ocasio-Cortez offered Graham a museum recommendation of her own.

"While we're recommending museums @LindseyGrahamSC, I heard your 'joke' about ethnic DNA preferences last month," she wrote, referring to remarks the senator made on Fox News in October in which he said it would "terrible" if a DNA test revealed he was Iranian.

"Perhaps you would enjoy a visit (or revisit) to the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture (@NMAAHC)," she wrote. "It's a great educational experience."

In a round-table on Monday, President Trump defended the use of "safe" tear gas to prevent migrants from reaching fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Thousands of Central American migrants fleeing widespread gang violence and poverty in their native countries are currently waiting outside the U.S. port of entry near Tijuana to apply for asylum.

Congressman who visited the border on Monday told CBS News that the number of migrants is expected to grow and make it extremely difficult for U.S. officials to process all asylum applications. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue