Ilhan Omar fled war in her home country of Somalia and grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya, arriving in the United States as a refugee 23 years ago. Today, she was sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.
On the eve of her swearing-in, she and her father flew into Washington Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, the first time they had been back to the airport since arriving in the country over two decades ago.
23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 2, 2019
“As we exited our planes, we realized that him and I had not returned to that same airport since the day we first landed here as refugees,” Omar told reporters Thursday.
“It’s a really overwhelming and emotional time for us,” she added. “And I don’t think, as my dad said, you know, he had high hopes for us about the opportunities we would have when we came to this country, but I don’t think he imagined someday, his baby would be going to Congress just 20 years after we arrived here.”
Watch the video below:
— CNN (@CNN) January 3, 2019
The Minnesota Democrat took her spot in history as the first-ever Somali-American individual to serve in Congress. She, along with Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, became the first Muslim women in Congress.
Omar will also be the first hijab-wearing woman in Congress. In November, she worked on changing an old congressional rule that stated headwear was not allowed to be worn on the House floor.
“No one puts a scarf on my head but me,” she tweeted at the time. “It’s my choice — one protected by the First Amendment.”
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 3, 2019
Tlaib is not a hijab-wearing Muslim, but she did proudly display her cultural background by wearing a Palestinian thobe at the swearing-in on Thursday.
— Rasha (@RashaMK) January 3, 2019
Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American individual in Congress.