Democrats are calling for increased security for members of Congress after the crowd at President Donald Trump’s rally Wednesday erupted in racist “send her back” chants targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee when she was 12 years old.
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who has called for Trump to be impeached over his racist comments, announced on the House floor Thursday that he plans to introduce legislation to provide more security resources for House members. Though members of House leadership have their own security details, the vast majority of representatives do not.
“Hate is on the rise in this country,” Green said. “These are dangerous times. Every member of this House needs additional security.”
Coverage of Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday sent shockwaves across the country as attendees chanted “send her back!” after the president ripped into Omar and falsely accused her of being anti-Semitic.
“I am not easily shocked. But we are facing an emergency,” tweeted Jason Stanley, a Yale University philosophy professor and author of the book “How Fascism Works.” “This is the face of evil.”
Trump on Thursday tried to distance himself from the chant, claiming he “was not happy” with it and saying that he tried to stop it (a lie). Instead, the president let the crowd shout the racist phrase for 13 seconds before continuing to speak. He never directed rallygoers to stop nor did he denounce the chant.
The chant was, in fact, inspired by his racist tirade on Sunday against Omar and the three other Democratic congresswomen ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) ― collectively known as “the Squad.”
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world ... now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump tweeted.
All four lawmakers are Americans. Omar fled war-torn Somalia with her family when she was 8 years old and immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee four years later. The other three were born in the U.S. In January, Omar and Tlaib became the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” the president tweeted Sunday. “Then come back and show us how ... it is done.”
Democrats were swift to condemn the remarks as racist, while Republicans — save for few exceptions — have been largely silent. Trump has denied that his comments were racist, though white nationalists have enthusiastically praised them.
Omar told reporters Thursday that she is “not scared” for her personal safety, but she fears for the safety of those who share her identity.
“This is not about me,” she said. “This is about fighting for what this country should be and what it deserves to be.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she is “of course” concerned about her security.
“I think part of the point is to target us,” she told The Hill. “The president is evolving, as predicted, deeper into ... the rhetoric of racism which evolves into violence.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told Politico that he plans to ask the U.S. Capitol Police to reexamine their security protocols in light of the rally.
“There are some people who are easily influenced,” he said. “And I’m afraid the president is part and parcel to the potential danger of those members of Congress.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated that Omar immigrated to the U.S. when she was 8 years old. In fact, she was 12 years old.