Home/Daniel Larison/The Costs of the Cruel and Unnecessary Travel Ban

The Costs of the Cruel and Unnecessary Travel Ban

The Trump administration’s cruel and unnecessary travel ban is jeopardizing the life of a U.S. citizen:

Maziar Hashemi, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Massachusetts, has been told by doctors that his best hope for surviving a rare form of blood cancer is a bone marrow transplant.

President Donald Trump’s travel ban could make that impossible.

Bone marrow transplants require a close match between donor and recipient. A few months after his diagnosis last September, Hashemi, 60, learned that his brother in Iran, Kamiar Hashemi, was a rare 100-percent match. The only problem was Kamiar’s nationality.

Mr. Hashemi’s brother has had his visa application denied, and he has not been granted a waiver. This man obviously shouldn’t be barred from coming here when he is trying to help save his brother’s life, and if it were not for the obnoxious travel ban he would have been able to do so. He is being prevented from traveling here solely because of his nationality and not because of anything that he has done. That would be unjust by itself, but when preventing his travel here worsens the chances of another person’s survival it is truly outrageous. It is cases like this one that illustrate just how stupid and wrong it is to impose blanket travel bans based on nationality. To make matters worse, the ban is completely worthless as a security measure, so Mr. Hashemi’s life is being put at greater risk for no good reason at all.

U.S. sanctions on Iran are also making it practically impossible for Mr. Hashemi’s brother to help him:

Worried about the ticking clock, Kamiar Hashemi looked into traveling to India to have his bone marrow harvested there and rushed to the United States, but that option was also thwarted.

A non-profit organization trying to facilitate the transfer, Be The Match, said it had to pull out after its legal team concluded that Kamiar’s bone marrow couldn’t be exported to the United States because of U.S. sanctions on Iranian exports [bold mine-DL].

“Can you imagine that the cells of an Iranian needed in order to help a U.S. citizen are embargoed?” said Maziar Hashemi, a civil engineer who has lived in the United States since the 1970s.

“It is just unfair,” he said in a phone interview. “I cannot wait much longer.”

Iran sanctions don’t have the desired effect on regime behavior, but they prevent a man from providing a potentially life-saving bone-marrow donation to his own brother. The travel ban doesn’t guard against any real threats, but it is separating these family members at a critical time. There should certainly be an exception made in this case, but the best solution to avoid more problems like this in the future is to rescind the travel ban all together.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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