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Rep. Ilhan Omar is in Trump's crosshairs. What's going on?

Caroline S. Engelmayer, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Ilhan Omar has only been in Congress for seven months, but the Minnesota Democrat has become a major target of President Trump's ire.

What's going on?

Question: Trump's attacks on Omar escalated sharply this week. Why?

Answer: Omar's been a vocal critic of Trump since she got to Congress, calling herself "the president's nightmare." But tensions spiked after Trump tweeted Sunday that four minority Democratic congresswomen -- Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan -- should "go back" to the "crime-infested places from which they came."

The four women held a news conference Monday to respond. Omar called the tweet "a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States of House of Representatives."

A day later, a divided House voted, largely on party grounds, to "strongly condemn" Trump's tweet as racist.


Then, at a rally Wednesday night in North Carolina, Trump singled out Omar for criticism. After urging the crowd to tell the lawmakers to "leave" the country if they don't love it, he claimed, without evidence, that Omar supported al-Qaida. The crowd interrupted him, chanting, "Send her back!"

Q: Why is Trump singling out Omar?

A: Although all four women are U.S. citizens, Omar is the only one born abroad. She was born in Somalia but moved as a child with her parents to the United States to flee the country's civil war and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Omar's foreign birth has prompted xenophobic comments from some Trump supporters. And, as one of two Muslim women in Congress (along with Tlaib), she's a target for people who are Islamophobic.


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