Travel Restrictions Bring Stress, Fear for Students

By Nathan Lawson

Since President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 27 banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, immigrants in the Texas Tech community have voiced their feelings.

According to a fact sheet issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the seven countries being denied entry to the United States are Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.

Mohsen Fouladi, a doctoral student in human development and family studies from Shiraz, Iran, said he felt like he was no longer welcomed in the U.S. and that immigrants from the seven countries in the ban were being criminalized.

Fouladi. Picture from the Texas Tech University website.

“When something like this happens we are thinking, ‘What is changing, are we criminals?’” Fouladi said.

Fouladi said he had hoped to go back to Iran this summer but is no longer going to. Fouladi also said his girlfriend is about to graduate and she will be forced to go back to Iran.

“This law is tearing us apart,” Fouladi said.

Shima Hassan Zadeh, a doctoral student in human development and family studies from Tehran, Iran, said she was hoping her mother could get a visa to come to the U.S. to visit. However, their plans have been put on hold because of the ban.

Zadeh, who is here on a student visa, said she has applied for asylum status because she has converted from Islam to Christianity. She said if she returns to Iran she will be killed for doing so. She said she is afraid she will not be granted asylum anymore and will be sent back to her death once she graduates.

Both Zadeh and Fouladi said the immigration ban has been stressful and their studies have been effected.

Abdul Hamood, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, is from Babylon, Iraq. He said if we start excluding people based on beliefs, race and ideology, we will create a hate division.

Hamood, who is also an adviser to the Tech Muslim Student Association, said the ban was disappointing but has given those effected the opportunity to experience the support from strangers and others, just like Muslim-Americans would do if it was another group being effected.

Photo from the TTU International Affairs website.

On Feb. 3, U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart ruled against the ban, temporarily restraining the executive order. A federal appeals panel upheld this decision on Feb. 9.

The professor said the ruling shows the beauty of America because there is a governmental balance where the executive branch cannot bully the judiciary branch.

Fouladi said he has seen so much support from the community and the rulings against the ban has given him faith in the country again.

“With all these protests and legal support, I think that the America that I knew is not ruined,” Fouladi said. “There is hope.”

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