Ilhan Omar is no stranger to conflict. From a refugee childhood to being a favorite target of an increasingly acerbic POTUS, the self-described feminist remains optimistic and fiercely single-minded in trying to do her best at her job in Congress.
A New Life in the US
At age eight, Ilhan and her family were forced to flee war-torn Somalia. After spending four years at a refugee camp in Kenya, the family came to the U.S. where they were granted asylum. Growing up in Minneapolis, Omar developed an interest in politics and became a grassroots activist at a young age. In 2016, she became the first Somali-American, Muslim legislator in the United States, serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives for District 60B. In 2018, she was elected to the United States Congress, representing the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota. She currently sits on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on the Budget. She is the Congressional Progressive Caucus whip and is a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.
A Public Target
It didn’t take long for Ilhan to attract national attention. Along with fellow congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she was dubbed a member of “The Squad.” The foursome, all young women of color with progressive policies, had an instant crowd of enthusiastic cheerleaders and dangerous antagonists. As The New Republic puts it, Omar is “a human lightning rod for bad-faith attacks” as “a foreign-born Muslim American woman wearing a headscarf in halls of power long dominated by old white men.”
Making Changes from Within
Despite her life being put in danger, she has alleged, at the hand of POTUS, Ilhan has persisted and done quite a bit in her short time in Congress. She introduced the No Ban Act and co-sponsored the Yemen War Powers Resolution that would end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen. She’s also consistently added to the national conversation substantively.
A Formidable Force in Politics
In one of Trump’s attacks on the congresswoman, he claimed that she would help him win Minnesota in 2020. Omar not only crushed her Republican opponent by 56 percentage points in 2016 but her home state also recently gave her a hero’s welcome as she returned to her district. Speaking to her hometown crowd, Omar said: “We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us. And we are not deterred, we are not frightened, we are ready.”