'Everything I Worked for Doesn't Matter': Iranian Ph.D. Grad Claims She's Banned from Entering the U.S.
A woman who earned a Ph.D. at Clemson University in South Carolina has been temporarily banned from entering the United States as a result of President Donald Trump‘s executive order temporarily banning refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. She is one of dozens of people who have been affected by the executive order after it was signed into affect on Friday evening.
Iranian-born engineer Nazanin Zinouri shared a post about her harrowing experience trying to return to her home in the U.S. on Saturday. Zinouri wrote that while visiting her family in Tehran, Iran, she learned about Trump’s new executive order.
“Soon we started reading drafts like everyone else,” Zinouri, whose LinkedIn page says she earned a Ph.D. in industrial engineering at Clemson in 2016, wrote on Facebook. “I might be banned from going back?!?! No that can’t be true. I’m not gonna let that ruin my trip.
“But then it got serious so fast,” she said. “Before I knew it, it was actually happening. Even though I didn’t want to leave my family, I quickly booked a ticket to get on the next flight back. Only a few hours after the order was signed, I got to the airport, got on a plane and made it to Dubai.”
Getting to Dubai was the beginning of a grueling — and ultimately unsuccessful — attempt to re-enter the U.S.
“After waiting in the line to get my documents checked and after 40 minutes of questions and answers, I boarded the plane to Washington, only to have two TSA officers getting in and ask me to disembark the plane!!!” she said. “Yes after almost 7 years of living the the United States, I got deported!!!”
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But beyond being disappointment that she couldn’t return to her home in the U.S., Zinouri expressed her heartfelt sentiments about feeling that everything she worked for was suddenly meaningless.
“No one warned me when I was leaving, no one cared what will happen to my dog or my job or my life there,” she said. “No one told me what I should do with my car that is still parked at the airport parking. Or what to do with my house and all my belongings. They didn’t say it with words but with their actions, that my life doesn’t matter. Everything I worked for all these years doesn’t matter.”
The executive order Trump signed on Friday suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the U.S. for 90 days for nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Zinouri’s native country of Iran.
On Sunday, after a federal judge blocked a key component of Trump’s executive order, the White House backtracked on the the order’s applicability to legal permanent residents of the U.S.
“As far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn’t affect them,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday morning in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. But he added that those green card holders could be subject to additional interviews — similar to the one Zinouri described — if they frequently travel to the countries in question.
“You’re going to be subjected, temporarily, with more questioning,” he said.