Meet Ilhan Omar: Former Refugee, Now First Somali-American State Representative

Meet Ilhan Omar: Former Refugee, Now First Somali-American State Representative


Nov 10, 2016

After her primary victory over the summer, Democrat Ilhan Omar has officially become the nation's first Somali-American Muslim female lawmaker.

Omar had clinched the Democratic primary vote, successfully defeating incumbent Phyllis Kahn, who had been a state representative for the last 44 years and is "tied for the longest-serving legislator in state history."

And now? She is the country's first Somali-American State Representative of Minnesota's District 60B.

"For me, this is my country, this is for my future, for my children’s future and for my grandchildren’s future," she stated.

But her success did not come without its trials and tribulations. Having fled Somalia with her parents when she was a young girl, Omar spent four years of her life in a Kenyan refugee camp before they were "granted the opportunity to become U.S. citizens when Omar was 8," eventually moving to Minnesota — a state with a high Somali immigrant population — where she has lived since.

Owing much of her passion for politics to her grandfather, Omar's political success is innumerable. From "supporting working families by winning paid parental leave for city employees" to securing collaborative urban educator funding from the Minnesota State Legislature.

And according to Women In The World, Omar told The Associated Press that, if elected, she hopes to close the opportunity gap in the educational system, work on criminal justice reform, and work on policing reform.

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Photo Credit: Stephen Maturen/AFP/Getty Images

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