Politics

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s first day in Congress: “This country is still a place of hope”

The 116th Congress, sworn in Thursday, is the most diverse in U.S. history. Among them was Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the first Somali-American elected to Congress and one of two Muslim women sworn in.

“There really hasn’t been a moment since this journey began where I don’t really pinch myself, and think, ‘How did I get here? Is this really happening?’” Omar told “CBS This Morning” on her first day in Congress. “I feel extremely honored and grateful to the people of the 5th for having faith in my ability to represent them.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (2nd-R), D-MN, with her hand on the Quran, participates in a ceremonial swearing-in with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (2nd-L), D-CA. Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images

“Currently in our country, really there is, extreme negative rhetoric against Muslims, immigrants, mainly refugees,” Omar added. “It is sort of a deliverance of an extreme counter narrative to– to that. And it says, you know, this country is still a place of hope.”

When Omar was 8 years old, she and her family fled the civil war in Somalia. After living in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years, they came to the U.S. and eventually resided in Minneapolis in 1997.

As we followed her around Capitol Hill on her first day, many well-wishers greeted her and shared their congratulations and support.  

“As someone who has seen really what it means to seek asylum at a border and to be received with such generosity, I want to make sure that here in the United States, we understand that there are other countries who take in so many people of the world’s most pained people, and in the United States, we could do better,” she added.

Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar hopes to bring “unique insight” into lives of refugees

On Wednesday she tweeted a picture with her father, saying they were returning to the same airport where they arrived from a Kenya refugee camp 23 years ago.

twitter-tweet” readability=”9.0869565217391″>

23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC.

Today, we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali-American in Congress. #Hope #Ilhan 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/jVeP3DOipN

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 2, 2019

“The people who represent us should be a reflection and a representation of all of the communities that they represent,” she said.

For the first time, there are more than 100 women in the House of Representatives, including the first two Native American women, Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan who is Muslim; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, the two youngest women to serve in the House at 29 years old. 




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