President Trump squared off with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and progressive freshman congresswomen Sunday on Twitter, telling the new lawmakers to "go back" to their countries of origin to fix the corruption plaguing those nations before they lecture the United States.
In the tweet, Trump referred to them as "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen" whose home countries have been collapsing from corruption and said they should return home to aid those who are suffering.
He also said their departure would please Nancy Pelosi and suggested she would even cover the cost of their travel.
Trump's tweets prompted a backlash from several members of Congress, including Pelosi and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
The House speaker responded to Trump's tweet shortly thereafter and said the issue was not about policy but about race, claiming the president wants to "make America white again."
She also called Trump's comments xenophobic and asked for an end to all ICE raids, in favor of bipartisan immigration reform.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flipped the script on Trump in her Twitter reply and blamed him for the corruption and lawlessness at the southern border, accusing him of purposely instilling fear while being driven by anger.
Meanwhile, Tlaib tweeted out a call for impeachment in response to Trump's comments and said he represented the real crisis, not the immigration issues on the southern border.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is Puerto Rican, was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and raised in suburban Westchester County. Tlaib, who along with Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., became one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress, was born in Detroit.
Omar was the first Somali native elected to the House and despite being born in Somalia, she spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as a civil war tore her country apart.
Omar responded by saying Trump has been corrupted with ineptitude. She also said he was stoking hate through white nationalism and told his opponents to fight his hate with diversity.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also condemned Trump's comments and issued a statement through National Executive Director Nihad Awad:
"Trump's latest racist tweets echo the bigoted shouts of 'go back where you came from' heard daily by American Muslim women and children, immigrants and members of other minority communities across our nation. It is sad to see the occupant of the Oval Office transition from empowering and encouraging racist taunts to actually using them himself," Awad said. "If Trump shouted the same thing at a Muslim woman wearing hijab in a Walmart, he might be arrested."
Omar has fundraised for CAIR, the influential civil rights group for Muslims. CAIR has been condemned by some conservatives, who said the group unfairly has labeled its critics Islamophobic.
Ayanna Pressley, the first African-American woman elected to represent Massachusetts, said Trump represented racism, while she and her congressional cohort represented "democracy." Pressley, who was born in Cincinnati, said she and other progressives wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.
Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who said he was leaving the GOP due to Trump's policies and was the only Republican to call for his impeachment, also weighed in on the debate and called the president a disgusting racist.
Matt Wolking, the deputy director of communications for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign, got in on the action as well and said some in the media already were mischaracterizing the president's comments.
"Anyone who says the president told members of Congress to go back to where they came from is lying," he wrote on Twitter. "He told them to 'Then come back and show us how it is done.'"
Last week Pelosi was caught in a public feud with Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Pressley and Omar. Ocasio-Cortez had been publicly acrimonious in her responses to Pelosi and accused the speaker of giving her busy work to keep her quiet and out of the way.
On Sunday, the Washington Post's global opinions editor Karen Attiah said Pelosi's harsh criticism of her own members gave the president an opening to attack.