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Why Are Iranian Students Being Denied Entry?

The New York Timesreports on another story that illustrates the Trump administration’s contempt for the Iranian people:

At least a dozen Iranian students who were set to begin graduate programs in engineering and computer science say their visas were abruptly canceled and they were barred from their flights to the United States this month.

Almost all Iranians were already barred from traveling to the U.S. by the cruel and unnecessary travel ban, and now these students have been left in limbo as their valid student visas were yanked at the last minute. If there is an effective travel ban on Iranian students as well, the government should at least make that clear from the outset instead of stringing people along with the hope of being allowed to come and then abruptly denying them entry. Of course, there should be no blanket travel ban, and these students should have been allowed to fly to the U.S. and begin their studies. Our government is making quite a habit of reneging on promises to people from Iran. In these students’ cases, it means added hardship and expenses, and it also means lost opportunities and wasted time as they have to delay the start of their programs or reapply somewhere else.

The Davis Enterprise first reported on this story late last week, and they spoke to Nima Abdollahpour, one of the students affected by the sudden cancellations:

Abdollahpour is not the only Iranian student who was barred this month from flying to the United States. He says he is in touch with 17 other students who were prevented from boarding flights out of Doha, Tehran, Isfahan and Mashhad on their way to the U.S.

Like so much else with the administration’s policies, the decision to cancel the students’ visas at the last minute appears to have no rhyme or reason except that they all come from Iran. It is as if they are being subjected to their own travel ban. The Enterprise article continued:

While some newly admitted Iranian students have successfully arrived at U.S. campuses this month — one at UCD, another at UC Santa Cruz — NIAC says the rate of denial is high enough to effectively constitute a travel ban. “There seems to be a change in policy that imposes a second level of the Muslim ban on students from Iran who have been accepted to study in the United States,” Costello says. “It hasn’t been every student, but it does seem like a large chunk of this new class of Iranian students has been blocked.”

There doesn’t appear to be any legitimate reason to bar these students from coming here, but then the entire process is so opaque that it is impossible for them to find out what exactly happened. The first Congressional hearing on the travel ban takes place this Tuesday, and administration officials should be made to explain the government’s actions in these cases along with the countless other applications that have been denied under the bogus waiver program.

The Trump administration frequently pretends to sympathize with the Iranian people, but in everything they do they demonstrate only hostility and contempt.

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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