Article Background: Dr. Kandi Tayebi on The Personal Impact of an Immigration Ban

In our February 1 edition of The Houstonian, we featured an article detailing the Immigration and Refugee ban signed by President Trump on Friday, January 27. In our research for the article we reached out to a number of different individuals to help gain a better understanding of how the ban was understood by the public, and we heard from Dr. Kandi Tayebi. Tayebi wrote to us on how her family is being directly impacted by the executive order, and we felt her responses were worth publishing in full. Below you will find the entire letter in full. Read on below for the entirety of the piece, and for more on the Immigration Ban here.


My husband is an American citizen, but he has family both here in the United States and in Iran. He holds dual citizenship. After the ban from our country, Iran followed with a ban on American citizens. Thus, to visit his aging mother, he would travel to Iran on his Iranian passport, but if he does this, the United States will not let him back in. Since his mother is in her late 80’s and in poor health, this is a horrible situation for him. We are having to discuss what to do if she passes away. If he goes to her funeral, he may not be able to come back to his wife and kids. It has not been easy explaining to my fragile mother-in-law why we cannot come see her and why a country that is supposed to represent freedom is denying its citizens of their rights.

My cousin holds a green card, has a job here in the United States, owns a house here, and has all her belongings here. When the ban was signed, she was back in Iran visiting family. She was told that she should get back to the United States immediately. In order to change her ticket, she had to travel to three different countries and pay thousands of dollars. When she arrived in the states, she was detained for seven hours without food after an 18 hour flight. Because the current administration does not call holding these people detention, they are not allowed legal representation. She was not told any information about what was happening until her congressman and an ACLU lawyer were finally able to get in contact with her after many hours. They told her that the congressman was having to contact Washington and that they were deciding whether to deport on a case-by-case basis. My cousin had already been vetted for over a year and a half to get her green card. She is one of the top scientists in her field and has lived here six years. She built a life here, and yet with one pass of a pen, everything changed. She was not a different person than she had been for the last 6 years. She had done everything right, but that didn’t matter. She now doesn’t know if she will ever be able to visit her parents again.  We are thankful for those politicians and the lawyers from the ACLU who stood up for the rights of the people of this country and for American values.

My niece is a student in the United States on a student visa. Immigration lawyers have told her that she cannot travel outside of the country and be assured reentry. She was supposed to visit her parents this summer, but she will be unable to go now. She is also unable to travel with her classmates to conferences outside of the United States. This makes it difficult for her to attend conferences with the most up-to-date information in her field. Additionally, this limits her ability to share her research with other scientists.

My brother-in-law owns one of the most successful businesses in Maryland that has earned numerous awards from the state and city governments. He employs a large workforce of American workers. He is now unable to travel abroad, which puts his business at risk. If he is unable to procure business from around the world, he will have to start laying off American workers.

None of these people have ever broken the law, threatened Americans, or engaged in any questionable activities. They are all here legally, after having endured anywhere from 1-2 years of vetting from our government. No person of Iranian descent on a visa, with a green card, or with citizenship here has ever attacked American citizens. Iran has fought with us against ISIL and Al-Qaeda.

As the daughter of a career military man, I grew up watching my father stop the car, get out and stand at attention as the flag was lowered or raised.  My brothers, sisters, and I would stand next to him hands on our hearts, never fidgeting as we realized the import of the occasion.  The flag represented everything my father had fought for, and we knew it must be important since my father left us to defend it.  My mother would dress us up in our Easter Sunday clothes and take us to the airfield, where we would watch my father board the plane to Vietnam.  Sitting on my oldest sister’s shoulders, I would cling to the fence waiting for my father’s final salute.  He would return with a gunshot wound in the leg that would leave him prone to infections.  Years later, my son would hold with pride the Purple Heart and the bullet that had ripped the hole in my father’s leg.  At the 4th of July parade, my father would take my two-year-old son’s hand, showing him how to place his baseball cap over his heart and stand with his shoulders back as the flag passed.

Now, my father, a Purple Heart veteran of over 25 years, has family members being treated like enemies of this country.

Hope this helps you,
Kandi Tayebi

There is one comment

  1. Ken W. Smith

    I appreciate Dr. Tayebi bringing this to our attention. Sadly the immigration ban has hurt a lot of people; it is a piece of "security theatre" that makes no one safer and clearly hurts good people.

Leave a Reply