Who Is Ilhan Omar? From Refugee to Congresswoman

Omar has publicly clashed with President Trump.
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar was recently called out by President Donald Trump, who suggested that she — along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
  • Omar is the first Somali-American member of Congress, the first woman of color to represent Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress.
  • Her net worth is a negative amount; she has no assets, and has student and car loans.

On July 14, President Donald Trump tweeted that Democratic congresswomen Rep. Ilhan Omar, Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — all outspoken progressive women of color known collectively as “The Squad” — should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Tensions between Trump and Omar intensified on July 17 when his supporters chanted “Send her back” — directed at Omar — during a rally in Greenville, North Carolina. In response to the rally chants, Ilhan Omar tweeted a quote from Maya Angelou:

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The day following the rally, Trump said that he was “not happy” with the chanting and that he disagrees with it.

Omar’s recent public clashes with Trump aren’t the first time the Minnesota congresswoman has made headlines. In January 2019, she became the first Somali-American member of Congress and the first woman of color to represent Minnesota. Along with Tlaib, she is one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress. But it was a long journey for her to get there — Omar first came to the U.S. as a refugee in the 1990s. GOBankingRates explored her political life and finances to find out how she went from refugee to congresswoman.

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Birthdate: Oct. 4, 1982
Net worth: -$25,001 to -$65,000
Primary source of income: U.S. congressional salary
Career highlight: First Somali-American member of Congress

Ilhan Omar’s Net Worth: -$25,001 to -$65,000

According to a financial disclosure report filed by Omar in May 2019, she has no assets. She owes between $15,001 and $50,000 in student loans, and has a car loan from Toyota for $10,000 to $15,000, leaving her with a negative net worth ranging from -$25,001 to -$65,000.

In 2018, Omar earned $49,045 from the state of Minnesota as the Minnesota House representative for District 60B. She also received $9,300 from the organization Women Organizing Women Network, which aims to empower women to become engaged citizens and community leaders. Omar’s husband, Ahmed Abdisalan Hirsi, reported $33,214 as his total income for 2018.

Find Out: The Highest- and Lowest-Paying Positions in Congress

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Ilhan Omar Reelection Campaign Funds: $1.43 Million

Omar’s campaign committee has raised over $1.43 million in funds toward her 2020 reelection campaign, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org. The top contributor to her campaign is Apple Inc., which has donated $8,500. Other top donors include East Bridge Capital, Zeva Inc., Evercore Partners and Creatis Capital.

Ilhan Omar’s Political Journey

Omar was born in Somalia, and fled the country’s civil war with her family when she was 8 years old. She spent four years at a refugee camp in Kenya before immigrating to the U.S. in the 1990s. Prior to her run for elected office, Omar was a community educator at the University of Minnesota, a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a senior policy aide for the Minneapolis City Council.

She was elected as Minnesota House representative for District 60B in 2016. During her time in this role, she served as assistant minority leader and was assigned to three house committees: Civil Law & Data Practices Policy, Higher Education & Career Readiness Policy and Finance, and State Government Finance. She was elected to represent Minnesota’s fifth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2019.

Since becoming a congresswoman, Omar has become known for her progressive views, which include abolishing ICE, implementing Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and establishing tuition-free college. Ilhan Omar’s comments on Israel, which include once calling Israel’s government an “apartheid regime,” have landed her in hot water, though she responded to the backlash by saying that she is excited that her views have sparked debate.

Keep reading to see the net worth of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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About the Author

Gabrielle Olya

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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