Sahar is an Iranian refugee and citizen of the United States. Her family immigrated from Iran in 1998 when she was 10 years-old. Her uncle and his wife joined them three years ago, and they have lived together in the U.S. ever since. But now, President Donald Trump’s executive order banning individuals from Muslim-majority countries has separated her family.
Her uncle travels to Iran frequently. They were in Shiraz and went to the airport, where he was turned away because his ticket was for a flight to Indianapolis in the U.S.
They are Baha’i so they must worry about their safety. They also are U.S. residents, and Iran blocked Americans in retaliation against the Trump administration’s ban. Both face an increased risk of problems with Iranian authorities.
Her uncle and his wife are green card holders. Sahar said her uncle has no idea what to do next.
Green card holders, who made it to the United States, have been handcuffed. They have had their social media activity reviewed. They have been asked about their opinions on Trump.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) reviewed the executive order and found, “Green card holders must apply for a case-by-case exemption from the Department of Homeland Security to be allowed reentry to the United States.”
“It should go without saying that no individual is uniquely prone to terrorist sympathies based on where they were born,” NIAC stated. “Iranian Americans are one of the most successful immigrant groups in the United States, and have contributed to every aspect of American life. This order is a slap in the face to our entire community, as it treats anybody from Iran, and the other restricted countries, as a threat to fellow Americans because of where we were born.”
Sahar has male family members, who fled Iran because they did not want to join the military, as is required when Iranian males turn 18 years-old.
Life in the U.S. has been “amazing.” She graduated from Penn High School just outside of Mishawaka, Indiana. She completed a nursing program at Indiana University South Bend and is currently a nurse at a hospital near her home in Granger, Indiana.
“I had the opportunity to go to a university. People back in Iran, if you’re Baha’i, you’re not able to go to school. Even if you have great grades, you’ll be turned away and persecuted and thrown out of the university or school. You will have to be either working under the table or working for a private company,” according to Sahar.
When she was a child growing up in Iran, she was hit multiple times in school by her teachers just because she was not Muslim.
Sahar has not typically worried about whether her nationality may impact her daily life, but the election has made her concerned for the first time.
“I have lost friends over this election,” Sahar declared. “I love all people. To me, it doesn’t matter. I’m not afraid anymore. To me, this needs to be heard because people are being hurt and families are being hurt, and there shouldn’t be reason why my family can’t be together.”
What happened to her uncle broke her heart. As she asked, “Why are we grouped as terrorists when we haven’t done anything wrong?”