Trump Travel ban nets US Iranians for whom fear is an all-too-recent memory

Trump Travel ban nets US Iranians for whom fear is an all-too-recent memory
By Robert Hackwill
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Individuals have been talking about their traumatic experiences at the hands of US immigration since the Trump travel ban came into force.


Despite the fact no Iranian took part in 9-11 Iranians with dual nationality have found themselves in heartbreaking situations at America’s airports this week.

With no real warning loved ones found themselves on the wrong side of closed frontiers, forbidden to rejoin family members just metres away.

Irano-American Hossein Khoshbakhty was waiting for his borther, a Green card holder, in Los Angeles, when he got a call saying he was to be deported. He does not understand.

“I don’t know what I have to do. We ran away from Iran to this country (because there) they do something like this, now we have the same situation here. I’m a U.S. citizen for 15 or 20 years and my brother didn’t do nothing wrong in no place in the world and I didn’t do nothing wrong,” he says. Pictures of his grief went around the world.

Nima Enayati is an Iranian bio-engineer studying at Milan Polytechnic. The ban stymied his six-month exchange trip to Stanford as he was prevented from travelling to California at Malpensa airport because of his nationality.

“There is another trip that I am more worried about because we received funding from one of the largest surgical robotics company that is in California. However I assume if the situation does not change I won’t be able to ask for a visa and to go there and present the project – that’s gonna be, at least personally for me, it’s going to have an emotional load, at least,” says Enayati.

The academic and scientific community has been heavily hit by the Trump travel ban. Doctorate student Mana is Iranian and studies at the Hasso Plattner Institute. She has her visa for a Californian visit in February.

“I made the plan to stay in Palo Alto a month ago. So of course I was very sad, I couldn’t go with my research fellows and friends from HPI. I couldn’t join my team and also I couldn’t stay and do my case study in Stanford anymore,” says Mana.

Soosan Lolavar is Anglo-Iranian, a santoor player and the proud holder of a Fulbright scholarship at Carnegie-Mellon University last year. As an artist Soosan could take advantage of a special dispensation to go to the Pittsburgh premiere of her new opera, “ID please” in April. But she has doubts.

“On the one hand it would be great to go to see my opera performed. A huge amount of people have put in a lot of work into this project, I don’t want to let them down but on the other hand I don’t really want special dispensation. With issues like this solidarity is really important,” she says.

Politicians are saying people like these will not suffer under the new rules. But this is proving not to be the case.

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