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Democrat Ilhan Omar becomes first refugee and Somali-American elected to Congress

Today we celebrate Ilhan Omar who has made history becoming first Somali American, and first refugee ever to be elected to Congress. Omar, together with Rashida Tlaib, also become the first Muslim congresswomen.



Former Somali refugee and Minnesota state lawmaker Ilhan Omar has made history becoming the first Somali American to be elected in Congress. Omar also became the first Muslim congresswoman, along with Rashida Tlaib. Omar was favoured to take a seat in Congress after winning her Democratic primary in a heavily left-leaning Minnesota voting district.

Omar defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski, and she will replace Keith Ellison in Congress.

Omar, who came to the US as a refugee, has championed left-leaning policies, including Medicare for all, a US$15 minimum wage and abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sending her best wishes to Tlaib on the shared historic achievement, Omar wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations to my sister @RashidaTlaib on your victory! I cannot wait to serve with you, inshallah”.


Omar (36) also congratulated Ayanna Pressley, who became the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

Background and career profile

Born in Mogadishu, and raised in Baydhabo, Somalia, Omar gained international attention in 2016 when she became the first Somali-American to be elected to a state legislature.

Congresswoman Omar spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Her family emigrated to the United States when Omar was just 12 years old.

The mother of three is an experienced policy analyst, progressive Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) activist, coalition builder and community educator. She holds degrees in Business Administration, Political Science and International Studies. She completed a Policy Fellowship at University Of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Omar has extensive experience and she served on numerous non-profit boards.


Through handwork and determination Ilhan has broken numerous boundaries, and she has received multiple accolades for her achievements, including the Rising Star Award from DFL Women’s Hall of Fame and a Community Leadership Award from the Mshale Newspaper for outstanding leadership.