Zeinab’s son Bahman has been studying for a PhD in Virginia since 2014. So when the chance came to visit him this January, she leapt at it. She applied for a visa at the U.S. consulate in Dubai via a travel agency in Iran—a common way to obtain documentation.
That’s where her passport was, ready to be processed, when Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning Iranians and nationals of six other majority Muslim countries from the U.S. was signed. Her dreams of seeing her son have vanished. “I was so, so happy and now I am so, so sad,” says the 60-year-old, who now faces separation from her son until he finishes his studies in two years. “Everyone always said America was the beacon of freedom, but after this I’m not so sure.”
Thousands like Zeinab — who did not want to give her last name for fear of impacting her son’s status in the U.S.— feel personally targeted by Trump’s order, especially as relations between the two countries had experienced an uptick since the nuclear deal in 2015 between Iran and 6 major world powers including the United States.
Now those improved relations are under threat, as Iran’s conservatives see the order as an opportunity to score political points with only months to go before a presidential election. Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, an MP and part of the loosely knit coalition of hardliners and conservatives called Principalists, said it violated the terms of the nuclear deal he and others like him are highly critical of. “Any action by America that prevents the creation of appropriate political and trade relations after the nuclear deal is a direct violation of it,” he was quoted as saying by the Tasnim News Agency on Monday.