Contrary to her tweet, other refugees were elected to Congress before Ilhan Omar
search

Contrary to her tweet, other refugees were elected to Congress before Ilhan Omar

Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos, Rudy Boschwitz who fled the Nazis as a toddler and Ileana Ros-Lehtine, who escaped Cuba as a child, were all refugees

Representative-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) holds a baby while talking to fellow members of Congress during the first session of the 116th Congress at the US Capitol on January 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)
Representative-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) holds a baby while talking to fellow members of Congress during the first session of the 116th Congress at the US Capitol on January 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on her first day on the job as a congresswoman, posted a list of firsts that her class represents.

“The #116thCongress has SO much to be proud of,” Omar said Thursday on Twitter.

Among them, naturally enough, is what she and her colleague, Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., represent — the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

But there’s a glaring error: Omar, who was born in Somalia, lists herself as the first refugee elected to the body.

Seffi Kogen, the Global Director of Young Leadership for the American Jewish Committee, counts at least four other lawmakers who in their lifetimes had refugee status, and two of them are Jewish:

* The late Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who made human rights a hallmark of his leadership on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

Holocaust survivor and former US Congressman Tom Lantos in 2005. (photo credit: AP Photos/Ng Han Guan)
Holocaust survivor and former US Congressman Tom Lantos in 2005. (AP Photos/Ng Han Guan)

* Former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, R-Minn., who as a toddler fled Nazi Germany with his family for the United States and who also has played a prominent role in human rights advocacy.

* Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., just retired, who is of Jewish descent, arrived in Florida as a child of a family fleeing Cuba.

* Rep. Joseph Cao, R-La., the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress, served one term (2009-2011).

I’d add former Republican Florida Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, also born in Cuba to a family who fled after Fidel Castro seized power.

Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan speaking at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia. (CC BY-SA Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons)

Two more errors on Omar’s list: Tlaib, whom she lists as the first Palestinian American; is preceded by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is the youngest woman ever elected, at 29, but there have been plenty of younger men, starting with Richard Bland Lee, who was 28 when he joined the First Congress in 1789.

read more:
comments