Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), flying home after a whirlwind week dueling with the president over a series of racist attacks, was met by a coalition of cheering supporters in Minnesota on Thursday evening.
The crowd of about 150 people gathered at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to welcome the congresswoman before she held a town hall event later that evening.
“Welcome home, Ilhan!” the group, some bearing signs and moving to shake her hand, chanted. “We have your back,” another supporter shouted.
Omar addressed the group shortly after her arrival, saying she planned to continue to work on behalf of her district “because you all send me to Washington to do the important work of progressing our country.”
“The reality is everybody talks about how [Trump] is threatened because we criticize him,” Omar said, according to an account from Minnesota Public Radio. “But the reality is he is threatened because we are inspiring people to dream about a country that recognizes our dignity and our humanity.”
She later responded with a short message on Twitter after the airport welcome, saying simply: “It’s good to be home.”
Omar is one of four freshman Democratic congresswomen who faced the ire of President Donald Trump this week after he posted a message to Twitter telling them to “go back” to where they came from. “The squad,” as they call themselves, Omar along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), are all U.S. citizens, with all but Omar born in America.
Trump’s comments quickly drew a sharp rebuke from the four women of color, who called them “blatantly racist” and said Trump was feeding into white nationalist talking points. But the president stuck to his own rhetoric, saying Omar and the others hated America and that “if they don’t like it, let them leave.”
The conflict intensified during a Trump campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday. During the event, the crowd of thousands burst into chants of “Send her back!” as the president looked on in silence. He has since tried to distance himself from the chants after Republican leaders expressed concern about them (although the GOP has largely remained silent, with some Republicans saying that Trump has no “racist bones” in his body).
Omar has vowed to “rise” in the face of Trump’s incendiary remarks and said Thursday evening that the president was lashing out because of her background.
“His nightmare is seeing the beautiful mosaic fabric of our country welcome someone like me as their member of Congress,” Omar said, according to MPR. “We are going to continue being a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us.”
Omar was back in town to hold a town hall event with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on health care on Thursday evening. Jayapal wrote that the greeting was an “incredible heart-warming beautiful welcome” for the congresswomen.
“This is the America I love — full of welcome & generosity,” Jayapal said on Twitter.