They have different backgrounds and represent districts in four different states, but this week the four Democratic congresswomen of color known as “The Squad” have been making headlines together after President Donald Trump launched a racist attack on them on Sunday.
Despite denunciations from politicians in his own party and around the world, as well as support from many of his Republican colleagues, Trump has doubled down on his criticism of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted to them telling them to “go back” to the countries they “originally came from.” (All four are citizens; three were born in the U.S.)
On Tuesday, hours before the House of Representatives took the rare step of formally condemning his remarks, Trump tweeted, “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” He has continued to defend the inflammatory remarks, instead pointing to what he says is “vile” rhetoric on the part of the four liberal lawmakers, whom he said “hate” America.
Trump also told reporters the backlash “doesn’t concern me, because many people agree with me. All I’m saying is if they want to leave, they can leave now.” On Wednesday, he told a British tabloid: “This whole thing with, you know, these people are just so — they try and make themselves out to be innocent!”
The representatives, whose “Squad” moniker traces back to a group photo soon after they were elected last year, gave a joint news conference on Monday responding to Trump.
“This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration,” Pressley said alongside the others.
Said Ocasio-Cortez: “We don’t leave the things that we love, and when we love this country, what that means is that we propose the solutions to fix it.”
Here’s what you need to know about the group.
The most visible of the four, 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez — also known as “AOC” — became the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress after her victory in November. She has millions of followers on Twitter, where she frequently promotes her liberal policy positions and tangles with critics.
A Boston University graduate and former New York City bartender, Ocasio-Cortez was recruited by the progressive group Justice Democrats to challenge Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary last year. In a stunning upset, she defeated him by a wide margin.
A member of the party’s progressive wing, which includes all four “Squad” members, Ocasio-Cortez supports Medicare-for-all and tuition-free college.
Her proposed “Green New Deal” looks to phase out the use of fossil fuels to combat climate change while creating jobs.
The 37-year-old Somali-American previously served in the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she authored or co-authored roughly 266 bills in the 2017-2018 legislative sessions, according to state records.
In her race for the U.S. House, Omar, a North Dakota State University grad who previously worked as a community educator, received the largest vote percentage of any female House candidate in Minnesota’s history.
She supports Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan to get rid of $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt and is among those calling for the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Omar, the first Somali-American representative and one of the first Muslims elected to Congress, was the first woman to wear a hijab on the House floor after pushing to end the chamber’s ban on head coverings.
She has faced backlash for her rhetoric about Israel and its conservative government, which she has criticized for its treatment of Palestinians. (She has also spoken out about other countries that she says have poor records on human rights.)
Earlier this year Omar implied in a tweet that support for Israel was based on money — an anti-Semitic trope which she said was unintentionally invoked.
Conservatives have called her too dismissive because of a remark she made in a March speech about the 9/11 terror attacks.
Pressley, 45, grew up on the north side of Chicago before moving to Boston, where she attended Boston University. She also worked as an aide to Rep. Joseph Kennedy II.
Pressley went on to serve as former Sen. John Kerry’s political director before being elected to the Boston City Council in late 2009.
There, she formed the Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities and helped implement comprehensive sexual education into Boston city schools.
Pressley is the first African-American U.S. congresswoman in Massachusetts and, like her fellow “Squad” members, has pushed for such progressive proposals as the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-all.
Tlaib, 42, is the eldest of 14 children born to working-class Palestinian immigrants in Detroit.
Formerly a progressive lawyer with the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, Tlaib began her political career in 2004 as an intern for state Rep. Steve Tobocman, who then hired Tlaib to his staff three years later. He encouraged her to run for his seat in 2008 after vacating it due to term limits, and she ultimately prevailed in a crowded primary before winning the general election in a landslide victory that saw her take 90 percent of the votes.
In 2014, Tlaib unsuccessful ran for the state Senate before eventually running for and winning a seat in the U.S. House, becoming the first Palestinian-American woman and one of only two Muslim women in Congress, along with Omar.
Tlaib called for Trump’s impeachment on her first day in Congress earlier this year and has called for it repeatedly since.
She, along with Omar, support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — referring to efforts to economically pressure Israel over its treatment of Palestinians — according to the Miami Herald and New York Times.
Tlaib has drawn ire because of her positions on Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and her support of BDS. Earlier this year, a local Florida lawmaker said she might “blow up” the U.S. Capitol.