WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., under fire from Republicans who called her anti-Semitic for describing President Donald Trump’s top immigration adviser as a white nationalist, lashed back, and suggested Stephen Miller was betraying his own Jewish immigrant roots.
“You know we are talking about someone who truly believes not a single refugee, not a single immigrant, should set foot on American soil,” Omar told CNN Tuesday. “I am appalled by that. Because unlike him and others, I haven’t forgotten my roots. I know what it meant for me to get the opportunity to come to the United States to start anew.”
Omar is a Somali refugee. Researchers have found that Miller’s ancestors fled hostile conditions for Jews in Europe at the turn of the last century.
“Many of his family and Trump’s family came here to get that opportunity and they forget,” Omar said. “Because they got the chance to come to the United States because their families got a chance to come to the United States. So when you get that opportunity, you do not turn your back on the next person who is seeking that opportunity. And I am here to make sure they never forget.”
Miller, a staunch proponent of tough anti-illegal immigration measures and of restricting legal immigration, is believed to be behind a series of firings this week of top immigration officials this week.
Some Republicans, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., the president’s son and a White House spokesman, accused Omar, who in the recent past made remarks that Jewish community leaders and some fellow Democrats have seen as anti-Semitic, said Omar targeted Miller because he is Jewish.
Democrats scoffed at the claim that Omar picked on Miller because he is Jewish.
“Last year I called Stephen Miller a white nationalist, but @RepLeeZeldin & @DonaldJTrumpJr never accused me of anti-Semitism,” Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said on Twitter. “Rather than attacking @IlhanMN, why won’t they stand up to white nationalism & President Trump’s support for ‘very fine people’?”
Trump said in August 2017 that there were “fine people” on both sides of a deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia.