How could they?
On efforts to ban Iranians from traveling to the U.S.
By Katayoon Hadizadeh
April 19, 2002
I am just sitting here and can do absolutely nothing but gaze at this piece of
news on the monitor:
The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, passed unanimously (97-0)
in the Senate late Thursday, prohibits admission of people from Cuba, Iran, Iraq,
Libya, Syria, Sudan and North Korea unless they are coming to the United States as
"We know the chances of another terrorist attack are great, and we know it
is unconscionable for our systems to allow entry of another terrorist into the United
States," warned California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, one of the sponsors
of the bill, during the debate preceding the vote.
I try to realize what it all means. My brain does not want to accept the facts:
If this legislation becomes law, no Iranian may ever enter this country again unless
with a Green Card or a U.S. passport? Because he or she may be a terrorist?
There is no window in this small cube of mine -- where I contribute the output of
my brain to the United States of America. I stare at the empty space at the entrance
of my cube and try to relax. I try to digest the logic behind this decision, to figure
out how refusing entry to my parents or yours can prevent the risk of another terrorist
Weren't the September 11 terrorists almost all Saudis? I read the news again,
and yes, there is no sign of Saudi Arabia in the list of terrorist nations.
I did my undergraduate studies in statistics and ever since I learned regression,
I always try to figure out the correlation between cause and effect. This helps find
the root of the problem. Now, the more I look at the variables in my equation, which
is by no means linear, the less I understand how Iranians can fit the definition
of "terrorist threat" and Saudi Arabians, despite their direct involvement
in 9/11, can not.
Let's see. Sounds like there are pieces in this puzzle that I am not considering.
There are hidden, historical variables that seem trivial to me: The fact that in
Iran, there are people -- a tiny minority -- who go to Friday Prayers just to shout
"Down with America". There are also pedestrian crossings in Iran painted
blue, white and red to resemble the US flag . People walk on them every day. Most
don't have the least idea where the US is, let alone what it really stands for.
Like a child, people conceive their knowledge of the
world by observing. The vast majority of Americans do not have the desire, time or
ability to sit and analyze what really goes on in my country. All they see on TV
after a hard day's work is "people" in Iran cursing America.
The government of my country is called the Islamic Republic of Iran. Easy to lead
to the conclusion that Iranians are Arabs. And I remember all my effort at the outset
of Norooz to prove, to show, to demonstrate that I am Persian, not Arab, even though
I understand Arabic and I am Moslem. This battle has been so frustrating that some
Iranians have given up altogether.
I can never forget how my father looked when he came out of the immigration office
at Los Angeles airport, his tired face after such a long journey, red eyes and unshaved
face, having gone through all those lengthy procedures because of his Iranian passport.
And yet he was smiling and thankful for seeing me, his only daughter.
Iranians are one of the most talented, educated and well-to-do immigrants in the
US. How can they, with such a proven record of success in this land, be deprived
of seeing their mother, and kissing her warm face and sharing with her little memories
while looking directly into her brown, calm eyes?