In 1977, my father immigrated from Iran to study abroad in the United States. He stepped off the plane to become one of the 36,220 Iranian citizens who began their studies abroad in the U.S. of 100,000 Iranian students studying abroad. After the revolution in Iran, however, circumstances changed. Even with the reconstruction of Iran-U.S. relations the total number of students emigrating for education remains low at around 11,338 in 2015. According to the government census, 291,040 Iranian-born people reside in the United States, followed by Canada who hosts 75,115 citizens.
So why do you care about these statistics?
Well, Trump rolled out a new version of his travel ban. This time it threatens to break down the main argument–that this is a muslim ban. Trump added Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea to the list. But he did not stop there. In addition to adding non-muslim nations to the ban, Trump decided to ramp up the regulations.
In the case of Iran these regulations include:
- Restricting any Iranian citizen as an immigrant or nonimmigrant (a immigrant visa is given to a person who is looking to reside in the nation permanently while a nonimmigrant visa is given to people who are visiting on a temporary basis)
- Those on student visas are exempt from this on the basis that they go through additional screening
- The revised ban still allows dual citizens to enter the United States
Donald Trump chooses not to recognize that many of the immigrants from the banned nations have gained this right and work hard to contribute to the nation. It is also important to look at the impact that those of the banned countries have on our society. Over twenty-five percent of Iranians who chose to remain in the United States have a graduate degree and their income per capita is fifty percent higher than the overall U.S. population according to the 2000 census. While Trump makes the argument that this is taking jobs away from “American citizens,” it is imperative to remember that just like other U.S. citizens, Iranians living in the U.S. hold dual citizenship and they have contributed greatly to this nation.
The argument Trump makes is that this ban is for the safety of the American people, that it is in the name of national security. However when we look back at the terrorist attacks in this nation, the countries listed on the travel ban are not the homes of the terrorists. In fact many terror attacks are committed by homegrown terrorists. The U.S. was founded with the belief that it was a beacon to those in need. We should hold true to that belief and not waste time on already sound immigration legislation and protocols.
My father did not arrive in this country believing this would be the country he would spend his next forty years in, get married in, reside in, and raise a family in. After the revolution of 1979, it was clear that Iran would not foster his aspirations. This travel ban makes it virtually impossible for our family members who reside in Iran to visit, a sentiment shared by many other Iranian families. This ban does not protect U.S. citizens, it breaks families apart.