Sunday July 16, 2017
Few people in the United States can relate to the plight of foreign refugees. But one politician knows just how devastating President Trump’s moratorium on refugees can be. Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar sat down with Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” Friday to discuss her experience as a refugee and what it is like to hold a position of power.
“You are everything that President Trump seems to be against,” Noah pointed out to start the interview.
Omar, a Muslim woman refugee from Somalia, agreed. “I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare,” she said.
The Minneapolis resident came to the United States when she was 12. She waited four years at a Somali-refugee camp before relocating to the United States. Omar recounted for “The Daily Show” audience the rigorous vetting process she and her family had to go through: applications, interviews, medical tests.
“It took a long time to become legal and to become citizens,” she said.
Noah asked Omar how she responds to bigoted critics who believe she is importing her Muslim faith and African culture to the U.S. The eloquent politician used history to put her experience into context.
“People forget that’s kind of what Native Americans — the indigenous people of this land — felt like when most of the people who do not want me in this country were coming to this country and feeling proud enough to make American their country.”
“We say this is a land of immigrants and we forget that this was a land that belonged to people,” she added. “And those of us who are new immigrants, and those of us who come from generations of immigrants, have to realize we are not that much different from one another. This country gave us hope. This country allowed for us to develop our own identity and to create our own home. And we should not look down on the next person that is trying to do that.”
Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_