Over the past several months we have seen many stories regarding the treatment of the Iranians and the Iranian-Americans at the US points of entry. And while the stories contain many details and pictures, an explanation or justification from the US Border Protection has been lacking. For example, why would an Iranian PhD student get through an arduous visa application process that typically lasts more than a year and finally receive a visa, but then refused entry at a US airport without any explanation?
If we study the people who have been subjected to this treatment, we can put them into 3 categories; Iranian students who have been accepted by the US universities for masters, PhD programs or research, Iranians who have married Iranian-Americans and are waiting and languishing for a visa to come and start their lives with their spouses in the US, and the Iranian-Americans who are returning to the US and are subjected to interrogation about their connections to Iran and political views.
And as usual, the polarized Iranian-American community in the US is looking at this issue through the same lens of “Trump is good, so everything he does is right”, or “Trump is bad and everything he does is wrong.” But we might be able to find the right explanation if we take a closer look at the stated policies of this administration without passing any judgment and basically say that he is doing what he said he was going to do, and if we don’t like it, elect somebody else in November.
The treatment of the first 2 groups of Iranians is a direct result of Trump’s immigration policy that basically wants to limit the immigration from the Middle Eastern/African/Muslim/Mexico/Central American countries. But there’s no alignment between Trump and his White House staff with the State Department apparatus worldwide and the judiciary and legal and advocacy groups on how to do this. Then as a result, a consular office in Turkey, Armenia or the UAE, after an exhaustive background check which has the benefit of the intelligence community that’s active in the Region and the Farsi speaking staff issues a visa, but the Border Protection Agency without any additional tools at its disposal is directed by the White House to not allow the Iranians into the country.
There’s a clear message in this treatment of the valid visa holders; don’t waste your time and money to get a US visa because we will send you right back, and don’t marry an Iranian-American because you will be apart for years. This is the same policy that’s being enforced on the southern border today; if you come to the border and apply for asylum, which you have every right to do, we will separate you from your kids and will put them in foster homes and you will never see them again.
And many in the Iranian-American community, instead of creating a true lobbying organization to safeguard our rights jump on the bandwagon and blame the victim; “after 40 years of saying death to America, of course they are not allowed in.” As if these Iranians are the ones who are burning the US flags. Notwithstanding the fact that even Trump himself has distinguished between the Iranian regime and the people and has said in his recent tweet that Iranian protesters are avoiding walking on the US flag.
The 3rd group which is basically the Iranian-Americans is completely a different story. A large number of them, including children and US-born Iranians were detained at the US-Canada border after returning from Vancouver attending a concert in early January and were interrogated about their Iranian links and political views. Also, an Iranian-American serving in the Army Reserve and returning from military duty was interrogated in front of his commander and his iPhone was confiscated because the Border Protection guy did not know how to get to his files and stuff. He was not even allowed to get access to his phone to write down some telephone numbers that he could not remember by memory.
Shortly afterwards, the above memo (picture) was leaked to the press that showed that all the persons born between 1961 and 2001 with any links to Iran needed to be subjected to intense scrutiny because they might engage in terrorism acts to revenge Soleimani’s death.
So here you have it. The Iranians from Iran are denied entry because of Trump’s immigration policies and the Iranian-Americans are being mistreated at the points of entry because there’s a fear of terrorism after Ghasem Soleimani’s demise.
Sounds like the hostage crisis all over again. The people who had nothing to do with what happened are being targeted and punished only because they are here and within reach.