Tuesday, 19 December, 2017

Iran might suspend visas for US citizens in response to Trump plan


By M.H.B, Editorial Board Member

U.S. president Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday afternoon that bans all immigrants and visa holders from seven countries from entering the US for 90 days, and opens the door to more country-based bans in future.

The executive order suspends visa entry into the U.S. from seven countries that have predominately Muslim populations. They include: Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen.

During the 90-day period, the Trump administration will assess if the foreign governments on the list are providing enough information about citizens seeking visas to enable the United States to assess whether they pose a terrorism risk. If the governments do not comply, they will be given 60 days to do so; failing that, their citizens will be barred from entering the United States.

The order has provoked an angry backlash from many Iranians inside and outside the country. 

The Iranian star of the Oscar-nominated film The Salesman said on Thursday that she would boycott the awards in protest at President Donald Trump’s “racist” ban on immigrants from Muslim-majority nations.

“Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist. Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the Academy Awards 2017 in protest,” tweeted Taraneh Alidoosti, the film’s 33-year-old leading actress.

Also in the United States, Americans of Iranian descent expressed shock and dismay at Trump’s plan, and were particularly concerned about their relatives and friends in Iran.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington-based advocacy group, said many Iranian citizens with valid green cards and American visas were distraught. Those outside the United States are fretting they will not be allowed in, and those already in the country fear they will not be able to leave, even temporarily, because they will be barred from returning.

“There is a sense of bewilderment, as well as a sense of injustice,” over why Iran was even included on the list of targeted countries, Mr. Parsi said. No Iranian has been accused of an attack on the American homeland. By contrast, he said, the Sept. 11 attackers included citizens from countries which are not on the list — and “the United States has produced more ISIS fighters than Iran has.”

NIAC released a statement on Wednesday, condemning Trump plan to ban visitors from Iran and Muslim-majority countries.

“Donald Trump is making good on the most shameful and discriminatory promises he made on the campaign trail,” the statement reads. “He called for a Muslim ban and is now taking the first steps to implement one. This will not stand. The American people are better than this.”

The organization called the reported executive order a “fundamental challenge to what America represents,” and claimed that “Donald Trump appears intent on throwing that America away and taking us down a slippery slope towards a dark future.”

In 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security, a total of 35,266 nonimmigrant visas were granted to Iranians to enter the United States, compared with 21,381 for Iraq; 16,010 for Syria; 5,549 for Yemen; 4,792 for Sudan; 2,879 for Libya and 359 for Somalia.

During his presidential campaign, Trump pledged to protect America against jihadist attacks and suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or its allies.

Given this statement by Trump, analysts are wondering why Saudi Arabia was not on the list of seven countries reportedly facing a visa-ban, as most of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the Persian Gulf Arab country.

Also absent from Trump’s reported list were Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are a base of operations for a number of extremist groups.

Despite the harsh reaction by ordinary Iranians, both inside and outside the country, the question remains that what reaction Iranian government would take in response to Trump’s visa restrictions?

If Trump moves forward with the order, Iranian government might consider retaliating with a similar suspension of visas for Americans.

According to analysts, it is likely that Iran suspend issuing visas to US citizens following the US president’s decision to suspend visas to Iranian citizens.

This comes as the lifting of sanctions on Iran has resulted in a surge of bookings, U.S.-based tour operators, in recent months.

As for Iran as a destination, the U.S. State Department has advised Americans to “carefully consider the risks of travel to Iran” and noted that Iranian officials have detained or imprisoned some Americans on various charges, including espionage.

Yet the U.S. government has never blocked travel to Iran the way it has restrained travel to Cuba. Thus, when Iran’s leadership started showing signs of increased openness to the West after Rouhani’s election in 2013, U.S.-based tour operators quickly saw a jump in curiosity about visiting Iran.

In 2014, there were 3,400 American visitors to Iran, up from 1,800 in 2013, according to head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Masoud Soltanifar.

NY times and NBC news contributed to this report


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1 Comment


    January 29, 2022 at 9:41 am

    this is a stupid reaction

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