Trump’s Unfair Ban: An Iranian View

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Nabi Sonboli,
IPIS Research Fellow

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed the Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist”. The Order reflects three critical concerns regarding immigrants and those who come to the US in the new administration: Security, ideology and contribution. These concerns are legitimate for any country but the question is that which one of these concerns are authentic about Iran and Iranians that are the main target of the Order?

From a security point of view, the main objective of the Executive order is “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks”. It refers to September 11th terrorist attacks and says: “The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.”  Because of Sep. 11 experience the US concern in this regard is understandable but it has nothing to do with Iran and Iranians.

According to Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute “Foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015.” In Richard A. Epstein view,  (Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow)  “It is ironic that most of the terrorists responsible for 9/11 were Saudis …, while other terrorist actions were committed by persons from Chechnya or Pakistan, … Iran has been categorized among “countries of concern” while Iranians have not been involved in any terrorist activity killing the US citizens. 

The EO puts Iran and six other nations under Sec 3: “Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern”.  Anyone familiar with Iranians in different countries certify that they have been the most contributive and least problematic in their new communities.

The second important concern is about extremist’s ideology. The executive order says: “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.”

Let’s take a look at Foreign Fighters report published by the Soufan Group in New York. It clearly demonstrates where the ideological and practical threats come from. According to the report,8000 person from Maghreb, 6000 from Tunisia, 2500 from Saudi Arabia, 2100 from Turkey and 2000 from Jordan have joined foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, mostly ISIS and affiliated groups. Furthermore, 5000 people from western countries and 4700 from former Soviet Republics has joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.  The question is that why so many people from “moderate and democratic countries” join a terrorist organization and how?

Washington cannot deter security and ideological threats by neglecting facts and figures, and targeting nations and religious, especially those who has no responsibility in this matter. Some of those who were welcoming and appreciating Saudi's contributions to democratic transitions in the Middle East in 2011 (G8), are criticizing them publicly (Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) new report) for  Saudi's support of extremism in Europe, now.

Contribution to American national interest is also another important issue for the new administration. The Executive Order asks for creating “a process to evaluate the applicant's likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant's ability to make contributions to the national interest”.  Such a policy leads to brain drain and is contrary to the national interests of sending countries. However, it is up to people to decide for themselves. The question is that how much Iranian emigrants have contributed to the US economy and society?

According to the research done by Iranian Studies Group, Iranians are “among the most highly educated people in the county”. “… the researchers identified more than 50 Iranian-Americans in senior leadership positions at companies with more than $200 million in asset value, including General Electric, AT&T, Verizon, Intel, Cisco, Motorola, Oracle, Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, and eBay.” 

The report adds:  “More than 500 Iranian-American professors teaching and doing research at top-ranked U.S. universities, including MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, the University of California system (Berkeley, UCLA, etc.), Stanford, the University of Southern California, Georgia Tech, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, California Institute of Technology, Boston University, George Washington University, and hundreds of other universities and colleges throughout the United States.” Those who has contribute to American Economy and society and save American lives in the US hospitals, are not allowed to visit their families. 

Based on above mentioned facts and figures, none of the concerns mentioned in the Executive Order are authentic about Iran and Iranians. The Executive order is based on misperception and false information, and completely against America First strategy. If Iran had not fought against ISIS, from Baghdad to Beirut were under terrorists control now.  It does not address any of the US concerns, prevents international cooperation on terrorism, and antagonize millions of people who have nothing to do with terrorism and are proud of their culture, history and achievements.

The US system and society should be concerned about those who intentionally try to mislead them about other states, nations and religions.  Such misleading efforts have imposed trillions of dollars on the US citizens in the past and may do the same in future.  The New Yorker businessman knows very well where the terrorist came from in 2001 and where are they now. If Trump is as smart as he claims, he must be able to recognize real enemies from faked and illusionary ones.


*Photo Credit: Daily-Wire
*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.

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