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Nadler defends Ocasio-Cortez's concentration camp comments

Nadler defends Ocasio-Cortez's concentration camp comments
© Greg Nash

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D) is coming to the defense of fellow New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Twitch channel to urge voting MORE (D) over her controversial remarks comparing the Trump administration's migrant detention centers to concentration camps.

Ocasio-Cortez had drawn the ire of conservatives for saying on Instagram Live on Monday that "the U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are."

"One of the lessons from the Holocaust is ‘Never Again’ - not only to mass murder, but also to the dehumanization of people, violations of basic rights, and assaults on our common morality," tweeted Nadler, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee and one of the most prominent Jewish lawmakers.

Ocasio-Cortez thanked him for the support.

The Trump administration has been housing thousands of immigrant families that have illegally crossed the border, often seeking asylum, at a growing number of detention centers.

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Conditions at the centers have repeatedly come under criticism. In a recent report, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general found “egregious” circumstances including “unusable” bathrooms, overcrowded holding areas and expired food.

The freshman lawmaker has defended her remarks and sent out an interview with an expert on the history of concentration camps. 

"We have what I would call a concentration camp system," historian Andrea Pitzer said in the article, "and the definition of that in my book is, mass detention of civilians without trial." 

Republicans, some Democrats and some Jewish groups have criticized Ocasio-Cortez's comments as demeaning to the victims of death camps during the Holocaust.

"As concerned as we are about the conditions experienced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States … the regrettable use of Holocaust terminology to describe these contemporary concerns diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people,” the nonpartisan Jewish Communities Relations Council wrote in a letter to Ocasio-Cortez.

"I think Congresswoman AOC needs to apologize," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE (R-Calif.). "Not only to the nation but to the world. She does not understand history."

"She does not understand what is going on at the border at the same time. But there is no comparison," McCarthy added, "and to actually say that is embarrassing."

But Ocasio-Cortez has dug in against the criticism, saying the situation at the southern border deserves the language she used. 

“DHS ripped 1000s of children from their parents & put them in cages w inhumane conditions. They call their cells ‘dog pounds’ & ‘freezers,’” she tweeted, referring to the Department of Homeland Security.

“I will never apologize for calling these camps what they are. If that makes you uncomfortable, fight the camps - not the nomenclature,” she added.