What It’s Like to be Told to “Go Back to Your Country”

It's not just members of Congress being told to "go back" to their country — the racist comment is heard by people of color frequently in America.

Xenophobic Discrimination

The racist concept became national news when President Trump tweeted to congresswomen to go back to the "places from which they came." The president has been criticized for saying that Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley should go back to the ‘‘broken and crime infested’’ countries they came from, even though all are American citizens and three were born in the US. 4 Congresswomen were quick to publicly respond. The House voted to formally condemn President Trump's racist tweets telling Democratic congresswoman of color to "go back" to where they came from. But long before that, the federal agency charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws offered up that phrase as an example of potentially illegal harassment. The federal anti-discrimination law does not directly apply to Mr. Trump's tweets, since the four congresswomen he targeted are not his employees.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) specifically cites the phrase "Go back to where you came from" as the type of language that could violate anti-discrimination employment laws in certain circumstances. The phrase is nearly identical to what Mr. Trump wrote in his tweets about the congresswomen: "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." The House resolution approved condemned the president's tweets as "racist comments" that have "legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color." It is the first time the House formally rebuked a president in more than 100 years.

Many Americans across the nation have been told to “go back to your country,” or some variation of the racist comment. “Go back where you came from” is not a new insult and is sometimes flung at new arrivals to the United States, at foreign-born U.S. citizens — or at those who are from the U.S. but belong to an ethnic minority. The use of the trope angered many and prompted people to tweet shared experiences or encounters of being told to “go back.”

These are some of their experiences…