On the eve of her swearing-in to Congress, Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar remembers arriving as a refugee to the US

On the eve of being sworn in to Congress as the first-ever Somali-American member of Congress, Minnesota Rep...

Posted: Jan. 3, 2019 3:08 PM
Updated: Jan. 3, 2019 3:08 PM

On the eve of being sworn in to Congress as the first-ever Somali-American member of Congress, Minnesota Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar celebrated returning to the same Washington, DC-area airport that she arrived in as a refugee when she first came to the United States.

"23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC," Omar, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party who's set to be one of the first Muslim women in Congress, wrote in a tweet. "Today, we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali-American in Congress."

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In the photo, Omar and her father can be seen beaming as they walk through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Virginia, luggage in tow.

On Thursday, Omar, standing next to her father in a congressional office building, told CNN that their arrival at the airport was a "very emotional moment."

"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," she said.

"It's a very -- really overwhelming and emotional time for us," Omar added. "I don't think -- as my dad said, 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 that some day his baby would be going to Congress just 20 years after we arrived here."

Omar's father told CNN that "it was amazing" to see his daughter elected to Congress.

On Thursday, Omar and her soon-to-be colleague, Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, will become the first two Muslim women in Congress. Omar, who donned a patterned religious headscarf in the photo, helped author a proposal in November by Democrats to end a nearly two-century-old rule that bans headwear on the House floor.

RELATED: Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar embody a new era for Muslim women

"No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It's my choice -- one protected by the first amendment," the Minnesotan wrote on Twitter and Instagram in November.

On Thursday, Omar will join a record number of women and minorities who will be sworn in to the most diverse Congress in history.

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