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OPINION: Trump’s travel ban is personal

The author and her cousin, Elena Yeroushalmi, in Tehran, Iran, April 1998. Photo courtesy of Talia Raoufpur

The author and her cousin, Elena Yeroushalmi, in Tehran, Iran, April 1998. Photo courtesy of Talia Raoufpur

by Talia Raoufpur, Staff Columnist

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In his first week of office President Trump signed an executive order prohibiting all immigration to the United States from seven Islamic countries, including Iran. In response to the ban, the Iranian government has placed a three-month ban to restrict anyone with an American citizenship from entering the country until the U.S. lifts its own restriction.

For the first time during his presidency, Trump’s political plans just became personal. I am not a refugee being detained at the airport, but an Iranian who is restricted from entering her home country.

As an Iranian-American, I now feel disconnected from the country my family calls home. While I did not have specific plans to visit Iran, I had hoped to travel there sometime in the next few years. It is devastating to be legally separated from a country of such ancestral significance. I long to visit my mother’s elementary school, walk through the bazaars and speak with those who still reside in Iran. I am appalled by the decision made by this government and am wary to call myself an American.

My dreams are now occupied by Trump’s poor judgment rather than my own ambition. I feel as though I am being punished for my cultural background rather than celebrated for it, which is supposedly an American ideal. When envisioning my plans to travel to Iran, I had believed the extensive flight was the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Now, it is my citizenship status.

My cousin Elena Yeroushalmi, an American citizen originally from Tehran, shared a similar sense of dejection. She and her family left Iran in October 2004 and are saddened by the news.

“We left Iran, (but) we didn’t leave thinking we would never be going back,” she said. “To this day, I can’t wait to go see the neighborhoods and the park I would play in. The idea that I am not welcomed there is very sad.”

The ban only punishes innocent people.

Trump has grabbed me by my liberties and it is not okay.

He might have no desire to travel to Iran, but I do. I have not been there since I was two years old and it has been a dream of mine to revisit. I want the opportunity to remind myself what it means to be Iranian and to align with my ancestral roots.

I am ashamed of this country. Trump is threatening to undo the successes of my parents, the sacrifices they made and the stories they lived as immigrants. Like so many immigrants, my parents longed to move to the U.S. to pursue a life of comfort and to increase the economic and social opportunities for generations.

The Iranian people are hospitable, welcoming and brave. Many embody the ideals our country stands upon. To prohibit them from entering our country is dishonorable. The American government is limiting its citizens’ potential and turning dreams into nightmares. For now, the journey to Iran will take time and patience, a characteristic many of us Iranians are far too familiar with.

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