News source: https://www.theatlantic.com
Samira Asgari had been preparing for the trip for months. She had just earned her Ph.D. from a Swiss university and was ready to start a postdoctoral fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, studying how a person’s genes affect our response to tuberculosis. But on Saturday morning, at Frankfurt Airport, she was intercepted by an American consulate, who stopped her from boarding her plane to Boston. “He said that it’s the U.S. government who issues the visa, and if they change their mind, the visa isn’t valid,” she says.
They had indeed changed their mind. On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen—from entering America under any visa, for at least 120 days. Asgari, who is Iranian, was sent back to Switzerland. Having given up her apartment in anticipation of the move, she has nowhere to stay. To make matters worse, her luggage is missing.
“The shock wore off yesterday evening. Now there’s just extreme sadness, and a very strong feeling that I’ve been discriminated against,” she says. “Even in Iran, you have this picture of America as a dreamland. But for people like me, this isn’t the America we imagined.”
For years, Iran has led the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, and so it is not unusual that Iranian scientists would face extra scrutiny from security officials, especially given concerns about nuclear proliferation in Iran. However, like the other countries affected by the ban, no immigrants from Iran have carried out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015. And given the blanket nature of the ban, it affects many scientists who have nothing to do with nuclear research.
Asgari is only one of hundreds of scientists who have been affected by Trump’s ban, which also applies to green-card holders who have permanent residence in the U.S., but have gone overseas for professional or personal reasons. That includes Ali Abdi, an Iranian Ph.D. student studying anthropology at Yale University. A few hours after taking part in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., he left the U.S. to do ethnographic research in Afghanistan. He’s now stuck in Dubai, awaiting a visa from the Afghan consulate. If that falls through, he doubts he can return to the U.S. despite having a green card, and he rules out a return to Iran because of his record of civil-rights activism. “Let see how things unfold in the U.S.,” he says. “I am sure people around the globe will resist.” Read more >>>