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Congressman Brian Higgins Welcomes State of the Union Guest Habiba Mohamed

Feb 5, 2019
Press Release

Habiba Mohamed was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, where her parents lived after fleeing the war in Somalia.  She lived in the camp for most of her childhood years, until the age of 14 when her family was resettled in Buffalo, New York.  Congressman Higgins first came to know Habiba when she took an internship in his Buffalo district office while attending college.

Prior to her graduation from D’Youville College in 2016, she worked as a Student Admissions Ambassador and Counselor at the college mentoring and tutoring first generation immigrants, tutored city high school students as an AmeriCorps member, and helped prepare others navigating the citizenship process as an intern at Journey’s End Refugee Services all while maintaining standing on the Dean’s List. 

Upon graduation, Habiba went to work at Journey’s End, where she assisted refugees through the resettlement process and served as a liaison to the Buffalo Public Schools and refugee families.  Today Habiba serves as Regional Assistant for United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, responsible for overseeing projects and community relations in six Western New York counties. 

During a naturalization ceremony in 2017, Habiba spoke to the new citizens about her journey to become a naturalized citizen, and the opportunity that the United States provides.  She said in part:

“My story and your story isn’t necessarily a new story.  I believe it is an American story.  This country has been built by and continues to be built by immigrants and refugees who have come here and contributed to its cultures, politics and economy.  You are just the newest ones to do so.” 

She recalled her father having tears in his eyes the first time he had the opportunity to vote as a U.S. citizen, adding:

“The Constitution promises us that we are guaranteed certain rights, many of these rights are also a responsibility as citizens; the right to vote is one of the most fundamental duties we have in a democracy.  For many of us, we were deprived of this right for a long time.  Now we have the fundamental privilege to vote and a duty to exercise that privilege.” 

And she spoke of the responsibility of every American to contribute: 

“You have the opportunity and responsibility to learn and contribute to the system and the laws of your new home.  Your citizenship comes with a responsibility to speak up and defend the rights of those around you.  ….For me this essentially means more than just a promise for a better life, it must be followed up with actions to improve our communities and our society as a whole.  You must strive to make this country better for you and all those coming after you.” 

Congressman Higgins said:

“To know Habiba is to look perseverance in the eyes.  She has overcome incredible obstacles, faced hardships and discrimination, and come through with a passionate spirit and impressive drive.  Her story, though uniquely her own, is similar to others who have sought the American Dream and contributed to a more perfect nation.  She is everything we should want for the future of our community and country.”