The four US congresswomen attacked by US President Donald Trump in tweets widely called racist have dismissed his remarks as a distraction.
Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib urged the US people “not to take the bait” at a news conference on Monday.
Mr Trump had suggested the four women – all US citizens – “can leave”.
He has defended his comments and denied allegations of racism.
He yesterday kept up his Twitter attack on the women, accusing them of saying “filthy and hate-laced things”.
Don’t take Trump’s bait he also insisted: “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”
The president did not explicitly name the women in his initial Twitter tirade on Sunday, but the context made a clear link to the four Democrat women, who are known as The Squad.
He sparked a furore after saying the women “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” and they should go home.
Three of the women were born in the US and one, Ms Omar, was born in Somalia but came to the US as a child.
Following the outcry, the four women told reporters they wanted to re-focus attention on to the president’s policies.
“This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous chaos and corrupt culture of this administration, all the way down,” Ms Pressley said.
Both Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib repeated their calls for Mr Trump to be impeached.
Ms Pressley dismissed the president’s efforts “to marginalise us and to silence us”.
She added: “Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world.”
All four women insisted that health care, gun violence and, in particular, detentions of migrants on the US border with Mexico should be in focus.
“The eyes of history are watching us,” Ms Omar said, decrying the “mass deportation raids” and “human rights abuses at the border”.
Ms Omar says Mr Trump’s “blatantly racist attack” on four women of colour was “the agenda of white nationalists”, adding that the president would like “nothing more than to divide our country”.
Ms Tlaib called it “simply a continuation of his racist, xenophobic playbook”.
“We remain focused on holding him accountable to the laws of this land,” she said. –BBC