STERLING, VIRGINIA - In a series of Sunday morning tweets quickly deemed racist and xenophobic by critics, U.S. President Donald Trump has provoked new controversy with taunts at several new members of Congress.
Trump on Twitter, targeted Progressive Democratic Congresswomen, telling them to "go back" and help fix the "crime infested" countries from which they came.
Of the four apparently targeted, only one - Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a native of Somalia - is foreign born. The other three are native Americans: Ayana Pressley (who is a representative from Massachusetts) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a native New Yorker (and represents the eastern part of the Bronx and a portion of north-central Queens), and Rashid Tlaib, of Michigan, was born in Detroit.
The White House has not responded to a request from VOA on whether the president was aware prior to sending the tweets that three of the four are citizens by birth.
The progressives have been squabbling with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over immigration policy and other issues. The dispute has attracted Trump's attention in recent days, even prompting him to utter rare public support for at least when it comes to her attempt to reign in the newly elected foursome.
Trump's tweets about the minority novice female members of Congress, known as 'the squad,' came about 20 minutes after a segment about them on the Fox News Channel. The president frequently reacts quickly on social media to what he sees on Fox.
Omar, in particular, has been a frequent topic of critical coverage on the cable television channel, in part due to her frequent criticism of Israel and comments perceived as anti-Semitic.
Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress.
Many on social media are condemning Trump's tweet - which even by his provocative norms are viewed as crossing a new line.
Among the most prominent is Pelosi, who terms Trump's remark xenophobic, "meant to divide our nation" and "reaffirm his plan to 'Make America Great Again' has always been about making American white again."
"Telling brown-skinned, U.S. citizen Members of Congress to go back to their own countries is a new level of racism," lamented Columbia University Law Professor Jamal Greene.
Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, which describes itself as a progressive research and information center, views Trump's attack on the lawmakers is "a betrayal of what the U.S. is supposed to stand for."
Trump made the series of tweets prior to emerging from the North Portico of the White House clad in dark pants, a white short-sleeved shirt and a red "Make America Great Again" ball cap.
As his motorcade traveled to one of his private golf courses in northern Virginia, Trump took to Twitter again to refute what reporters described who had accompanied Vice President Mike Pence during a visit to two detention centers for migrants in Texas.
"Great Reviews!" declared Trump of the tour by politicians and media to the facility for children. He characterized the pen holding adult men as "clean but crowded."
The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who filed the collective print report from the scene, described a guarded area where nearly 400 men were crammed behind caged fences with not enough room for all of them to lie down on the concrete floor.
"A stench from body odor hung stale in the air," wrote Dawsey, who said some of the men screamed they had been held for more than 40 days.
At the location, Pence had commented "this is tough stuff" as a group of detainees shouted, "no showers."
Trump has repeatedly warned that if he is unseated by a Democrat in next year's presidential campaign that the opposition party would turn the United States into a socialist country and open its borders to dangerous immigrants.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of voters released on Sunday shows Trump trailing the top four Democratic Party contenders in a hypothetical matchup.