Nowruz, the Iranian New Year (which falls on March 21st), is normally a busy time for the Los Angeles Iranian community — a time when family members visit one another, many traveling to or from Iran. But this years, things are quite different due to Trump’s revised Travel Ban. The executive order forbids travelers who do not currently have visas from six Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for three months, and among those countries is Iran. (Update: A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday issued a sweeping freeze of President Trump’s new executive order – the standing is on a temporarily basis).
Travel agencies catering to the local Iranian community are seeing hesitation with booking travel. “Most people, when they purchase their ticket, they are purchasing a non-refundable ticket, the lowest fare and in that case, they were asking, ‘We need our refund because we’re scared to go there. We don’t want to go,’” comments Farhad Besharati, owner of Travel ATT. He added that many Iranian Americans, even those that are citizens, are worried about traveling because they fear another change in the travel rules.
“A lot of people that are here, their relatives getting older and older, so they cannot (see them),” says journalist Reza Goharzad. The journalist says that one should separate Iran’s government from the Iranian people. “My people they are under the big pressure of the dictatorship in Iran so don’t put government’s fault on the people.”
Varun Soni, dean of religious life at the University of Southern California (USC), makes the point that people from other faiths are also affected by the ban. “We have a very large Iranian community here in Los Angeles, including a large Iranian Jewish community and a large Iranian Bahai community.”
Rose Youssefi, who’s in the medical field at USC, says the ban’s effect on Iranian students will be “devastating.” “There’s a lot of students in medicine have been caught and can’t come back. They have pending residencies, pending degrees waiting for them and they can’t return… It’s not fair at all. It’s heart breaking.”