'Tactical Vote': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Urges Progressives to Vote Biden to Support Vulnerable Communities

On Friday, Democratic New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told progressive voters reluctant about supporting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that their support for him can offer "tactical votes" in support of vulnerable communities, namely immigrants.

"I am casting this vote out of solidarity with our most marginalized and vulnerable communities," Ocasio-Cortez told actress and activist Jane Fonda in a Fire Drill Friday interview, an ongoing series about politics and climate change sponsored by the environmental group Greenpeace.

"I don't think anyone can really look at me in the eye and genuinely tell me that immigrants who are having forced hysterectomies, who are being put in cages and camps, who are being separated from their children in some of the largest human rights violations at [a] scale that we have seen in a very long time—I don't think anyone can look me in the eye and say that they won't be better off in a Biden administration, that they won't be more protected under a Biden administration," she said, according to The Hill.

"This isn't always about support for the candidate," she added, telling progressives that it's possible to criticize Biden and his policies while still supporting his election. "We can make tactical votes."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Joe Biden progressive vote vulnerable
Democratic New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pictured here during the 2020 Democratic National Convention in August, has told progressive voters that supporting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is a "tactical vote" in support of vulnerable people. Handout/DNCC/Getty

Ocasio-Cortez's comments reference several aspects of Republican President Donald Trump's immigration policies at the southern U.S. border.

Her first reference alludes to a medical whistleblower's allegations in September that detainees at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia were receiving unwarranted hysterectomies.

Ocasio-Cortez also referenced the detainment cells and refugee camps at the border. The online journalism organization The Marshall Project found that the number of asylum seekers in U.S. immigration centers and camps had increased under the Trump administration, leading to overcrowding and fewer resources, worsening conditions already considered inhumane by immigration advocates.

The child separations Ocasio-Cortez mentioned refer to Trump's "zero tolerance" policy of separating thousands of undocumented immigrant children from their parents or guardians at the border.

Though the policy began under the Obama administration, in January 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general released a report in January stating that under Obama, such family "separations were rare and occurred because of circumstances such as the parent's medical emergency or a determination that the parent was a threat to the child's safety."

Trump formalized the practice as part of his policy, regardless of the parent's medical status or threat to their children. A Tuesday court filing by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleged that 545 migrant children have had not been reunited with their parents. On Wednesday, the White House claimed the parents didn't want their children back.

"Many of them have declined to accept their children back.... It's not for lack of effort on the administration's part," White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said, according to NBC News.

"The fact of the matter is the United States has engaged in a program of mass human rights violations targeting immigrants," Ocasio-Cortez said in a September 14 tweet. "This includes mass child separation, systemic sexual assault of people in detention, kangaroo-court procedures, & more."

"Our country must atone for it all," she concluded.

Newsweek contacted Ocasio-Cortez for comment.