• 8 January 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • Congress, Culture, Iranian American Life

Khodahafez America?

This week Congressman Greshman Barrett announced that he would like to reintroduce the Stop Terrorists Entry Program (STEP) Act, originally introduced in 2003. STEP is an attempt to “step up” national security policies by amending our nation’s current immigration policies. Basically, the STEP ACT would prohibit the admission of aliens from countries deemed to be “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” including Iran.

The United States has come a long way since the days of the Mayflower — in both good ways and bad — but our nation was ultimately founded by immigrants; everyone has immigrant roots, including Congressman Barrett.

One could say to suddenly bar all Iranians seeking to come to the US could be seen as a eugenic measure of some sort, keeping out specific groups of “aliens” from US soil, and adhering to the bigoted idea that only specific ethnic groups belong within the US. It would also deport Iranians on student visas, temporary work visas, exchange visas, and even tourist visas within 60 days. This would mean that if the STEP Act were to pass, my Calculus tutor Bijan would be deported before we even take our final exams, simply for being here on a student visa.

The STEP Act doesn’t take into account that Bijan has only twenty more credits to complete his B.S. in Biology, simply focusing on the fact that he is Iranian.

Even those seeking emergency medical treatment, political, or religious asylum will only be granted entry after “extensive federal screening.”  Anyone who has experienced the “extensive federal screening” process knows how difficult it is.

If a law like this had been implemented ten, twenty, even thirty years ago many of us Iranian-Americans would not be here today. Many of the great contributions that Iranian Americans have made to the United States — in medicine, engineering, science, and academia — would not have occurred.

The US has tried rounding up people based on where they or their families were born — Japanese internment camps during WWII being the most poignant example — and there are even some pundits in Washington who still think it was a good idea.  But even in today’s frenzied political atmosphere where teabaggers set the bounds for discourse, this has to be crossing a line, right?

If you think so, check out what NIAC is doing on this.

Posted By Nayda Lakelieh

    3 Responses to “Khodahafez America?”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Nayda, my father was Iranian and my mother is American. To be more precise my mother’s people are Native Americans (aka American Indian). I know, that’s a very unlikely mix, but like we’re fond of saying here- everything’s possible in San Francisco.

    I mention this because you state that “everyone has immigrant roots”. Well, my 102 year old Native American grandfather (still alert and well) disagrees. Now you might say that technically, our people “immigrated” to America 13,000 years ago. That’s what the scientists say. But it’s a little rude to tell my grandfather that; the oral tradition states that the world was created in a spot in modern day New Mexico, and my grandfather’s people were the original human beings on earth. 🙂

    Anyway, STEP is ridiculous and racist. And I actually went to grade school with children of Japanese-American prisoners of US concentration camps, here in the SF Bay Area. There’s actually a lot more to that sad story than just internment. In the process, my fiends’ families were also legally robbed of their businesses and properties. Bet the pundits don’t mention that.

  2. Farrokh Bulsara says:

    Pirouz – I think you’re getting into semantics. Nayda brings up a great point

  3. Jay says:

    Looks like congressmen Barrett could start his own Baseej force in the U.S.

    Goes to show that extremism does not needs a robe and beard!

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