Home/Daniel Larison/The Disgusting Cruelty of the Travel Ban

The Disgusting Cruelty of the Travel Ban

Official WhiteHouse.gov Photo

The Dallas Morning Newsreports on another one of the effects of the cruel and unnecessary travel ban:

After Navaz Ebrahim’s newlywed older sister and her husband were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was mistakenly shot down by Iranian forces last month, all the Preston Hollow resident wanted to do was bring her parents to Dallas to grieve as a family.

But because of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, her parents’ visas were denied Feb. 7 by the U.S. Embassy in London, a decision that she said led to a breakdown.

“I missed the time to allow myself to grieve,” said Ebrahim, 31. “I’m just trying very hard to be with my parents during this difficult time.”

This family has already suffered a terrible loss, and to prevent them from reuniting because of this absurd ban adds a profound insult to that injury. Under the circumstances, there is absolutely no reason why Ms. Ebrahim’s parents shouldn’t have been allowed to come here. Were it not for the travel ban, it is hard to imagine that their application would have been denied. Keeping two grieving parents from visiting with their daughter has nothing to do with protecting this country. It is nothing but cruelty. The travel ban doesn’t make the U.S. one iota safer, but it does inflict pain and hardship on many thousands of families like this one.

Ms. Ebrahim cannot simply go to wherever her parents happen to be, because she is currently an asylum-seeker in the U.S.:

Ebrahim was unable to attend the celebration because she’s an asylum-seeker living in Dallas with her husband, Nima, a legal permanent U.S. resident originally from Iran. Ebrahim has lived in the U.S. since 2012 and in Dallas since 2014, but her pending asylum application makes it almost impossible for her to leave the country without forfeiting her status.

A few years ago, this would have presented no problem. Her parents have previously traveled to the U.S. in 2016 to see her, and there was no good reason to turn them away this time. This is one of many cases that shows that the waiver program for the travel ban is worthless. People with legitimate reasons to travel to the U.S. are barred from coming solely because of their nationality, and even grieving families are forced to endure separation because of an arbitrary presidential decree. If there were ever a case that merited an exception to this blanket ban, it would be this one. Their application even had a letter of recommendation from the local member of Congress in Dallas:

Her parents brought a file with them to the embassy that included newspaper clippings detailing their family’s tragedy, passports showing their extensive travel to countries around the world — including the U.S. — and a letter of support from Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas.

“Denying a visa at this time, for the purposes of temporarily uniting Mrs. Navaz Ebrahim with her parents, would deprive them the opportunity to properly grieve their daughter and sister, creating undue hardship for the family,” Allred wrote.

Jason Rezaian had reported earlier on the parents’ efforts to come to the U.S. to mourn with their only other child, and he describes what happened:

After what they say was a two-minute interview with a consular officer, who told them it wouldn’t be necessary to look at their documents, their applications were rejected.

They were handed a standard letter explaining the decision: “You have not demonstrated that you have the ties that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States.”

This is not an unusual reason for Iranians or citizens of other countries to be denied U.S. visas, but Ebrahim and Shakooea meet all the criteria of people who will return home. They own property in Iran, earn incomes there and have visited many countries (including the United States) without ever overstaying a visa. They have always returned home to Iran. The documentation they had prepared made all of this clear.

This family has already suffered greatly, and the least that our government could do would be to allow them to reunite so that they can properly mourn their loss together. The Morning News story concludes with this statement from Ms. Ebrahim:

While she works to secure visas for her parents, Ebrahim said she gets emotional when she thinks about other people separated from family in the U.S. because of the travel ban.

“I hope to be the voice of others who are struggling,” Ebrahim said. “We’re not bad people. We’re looking for peace. We’re not threats.”

The travel ban does great harm to thousands and thousands of innocent people who are directly affected by it, and there is no excuse for what the administration has done to these people. The travel ban needs to be rescinded as soon as possible.

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.

leave a comment

Latest Articles