Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Iranian Americans feel stuck, afraid of travel ban

Published:Monday | February 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM

IRVINE, California (AP):

Iranian-American supermarket supervisor Alan Tahmasebi voted for Donald Trump last year, hoping a businessman would be more trustworthy than a politician.

The 35-year-old now sorely regrets it, seeing the havoc wreaked upon his fellow countrymen and his family since the new president issued a temporary travel ban on refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including his former home.

Tahmasebi and his wife have spent more than $7,000 on green card applications for their parents. Now, their parents are in limbo overseas as the Irvine couple awaits the birth of their second child.

"It was a land of opportunity, but now, I don't think so," he said. "They wish to come here and visit my new baby. They never worked with the army, with the government (in Iran) I have no idea what is going on."

The ban has rattled Americans with ties to the listed countries, and its effects are perhaps most widespread among the country's thriving Iranian-American community. The US has nearly 370,000 Iranian immigrants, according to US Census Bureau estimates, far more than the other countries targeted by the order.

While Tehran and Washington have a lengthy history of friction, personal ties between residents of the two countries have held strong. Many Iranian-Americans travel back to visit family or bring ageing parents to join them in the US.




Since Trump imposed the travel ban, tension between the two governments has continued to rise.

On Friday, Iran barred US wrestlers from an important international tournament. The same day, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 13 people and a dozen companies in response to Iran's recent ballistic missile test, increasing pressure on Tehran without directly undercutting a nuclear deal with the country.

Later Friday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the travel ban following a lawsuit by Washington state and Minnesota that said Trump's order is causing significant harm to residents and effectively mandates discrimination.

A federal appeals court on Sunday denied a Justice Department request for an immediate reinstatement of the ban, meaning the legal fight will continue for days at least.