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Meet the ‘Squad’: Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib

(Clockwise from top left) Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar. Photos from the Associated Press/Getty Images

Four first-term Democratic congresswomen have served as a foil for President Trump in recent days — Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar.

Trump targeted the group of lawmakers, who refer to themselves as “Squad,” in a series of tweets Sunday, telling them to go back to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” although all four are American citizens.

In a group press conference Monday, the Democratic quartet responded by vowing to fight Trump’s “hateful” policies.

So who exactly are the four trailblazers that comprise the "Squad"?

Pressley posted a photo in November, shortly after her election to the House, of herself, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar at the orientation for new members of Congress.


Broadly reshared, the photo represented the first public use of their new moniker and a sign of the alliance they would form in the House, where they recently were the only four Democrats to oppose a recent border aid bill, sparking a dispute with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The four represent among the most progressive districts in the House, according to the Cook Political Report and that profile appeared to be part of the basis for Trump’s weekend attacks, where he referred to them as “ ‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen.”

Pressley replied Monday by saying “our squad is big.”

Here’s a brief refresher on the four Democratic woman challenging the president and facing his ire.

Ayanna Pressley

The representative from Massachusetts’s Seventh District made history when she toppled 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the district’s Democratic primary in the fall of 2018. She’s the first woman of color from Massachusetts to serve in Congress, an historic first that followed her 2009 election as the first black woman to win a seat on the Boston City Council.


Ayanna Pressley in Washington.Zach Gibson/Getty Images/Getty Images

She moved to Boston to attend Boston University in 1992 and during her time in the community rose through the ranks of Massachusetts politics, working as an aide to Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and serving in a series of roles with Senator John Kerry, including as his political director, before running for city council. Pressley, 45, is the oldest of the four-woman “Squad.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The representative from New York’s 14th District was launched into the national political spotlight after winning a primary campaign against Democratic incumbent Joseph Crowley in June 2018.

The BU alumna, 29, toppled Crowley despite his 18-1 advantage in spending and powerful presence in the Democratic Party in New York and nationally. He had been the head of the Queens Democratic party and served in the US House Democratic leadership.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday,Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest person ever elected to Congress.

Before entering politics, Ocasio-Cortez tended bar and served as an activist with Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. She has the broadest social media presence of the group, with 4.8 million Twitter followers, the most of any House member.

Ilhan Omar

The representative from Minnesota’s Fifth District made history alongside Tlaib in 2018 when the two became the first Muslim-American women to be elected to Congress. Omar broke another barrier of her own by becoming the first hijabi woman in Congress.

Representative Ilhan Omar responding to President Trump on Monday.J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press/Associated Press

She’s the only member of the “Squad” who did not have to defeat an incumbent to win her seat, which was previously held by Minnesota’s now-attorney general, Keith Ellison. Before being elected as a state representative, the role she held prior to rising to the US House, she was a policy expert for the Minneapolis City Council and at the University of Minnesota.


Omar was born in Somalia but her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight. After spending time in a refugee camp in Kenya, she arrived in the United States when she was 12 and has since become a naturalized US citizen.

When he doubled down on his attacks Monday, Trump singled out Omar, falsely claiming she had proclaimed love for Al Qaeda.

On several occasions, Omar has decried Al Qaeda, and Al Shabab, the Somali insurgent group loosely associated with Al Qaeda, for its acts of “evil.”

Rashida Tlaib

The representative from Michigan’s 13th District was elected to Congress in a history-making election that saw her and Omar become the House’s first elected Muslim-American women.

Tlaib had previously served for six years in the Michigan House of Representatives and worked as an attorney at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, a national nonprofit public-interest law center.

Rashida Tlaib in February.J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press/Associated Press

She was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents and the district she represents includes a large portion of Detroit and its Western suburbs.

Alongside Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib attended Pressley’s farewell meeting with the Boston City Council in December, watching from the gallery at City Hall.


Peter Bailey-Wells can be reached at peter.bailey-wells@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells.