Travel writer, Sahar, offers a personal perspective on how Trump’s recent travel bans will affect her opportunity for visiting the USA
We are all aware of Trump’s attempted implementation of the Muslim ban and have seen footage of airports filled with people from these seven countries trapped inside as well as protesters against this ban. For me, with my Iranian heritage and having family in the US, I took this ban personally and felt as though Trump was telling me not to bother visiting America. Now that he’s in the process of implementing a second ban, I personally feel as though it’s better not to travel to the US for the foreseeable future.
Earlier this year, my younger sister constantly badgered my mum about wanting to visit California. Eventually, my mum caved in and agreed so we slowly started thinking about when to go and what to do there. However, one huge obstacle was that my mum and I had both recently been to Iran. This meant that we would have to apply for a visa and attend an interview at the embassy before being able to commit to travel. I was already concerned, because during our last visit to the country, four years ago, we received much hostility from airport security which opened my eyes to the hostile relationship between Iran and America.
Once the Muslim ban was implemented, my hopes for the summer holiday were instantly lost. I had also considered applying for a summer camp job in America or being an au pair, however once I heard about the ban I instantly banished those opportunities from my mind. It was so upsetting to watch footage of children being detained, people being separated from their families and unnecessary angst for people from these seven countries. It was especially poignant to watch Iranians being treated in this demeaning way as it could have easily been a family member or friend of mine.
Having plenty of Iranian family and friends dotted around America, I asked some of them what their reaction was to the Muslim ban and if they have received any hostility as a result of this ban.
My aunt, uncle and cousins have lived in Minnesota for many years and having visited before, they live in a beautiful neighbourhood surrounded by the friendliest people. My aunt, Beheshteh, felt fearful and angry when the ban was implemented. Having had past trouble concerning her family being allowed to visit the US, it was understandable for her to question how it would affect her future travel plans to and from Iran, something which still remains ambiguous. However, she continues to be grateful for being surrounded by warm and compassionate people who are also outraged by the ban.
My cousin, Farid, lives in Chicago and was far from impressed by the implementation of the ban, describing it as “hasty and stupid”. He also described it as a “disaster” and said that it wasn’t thought through effectively. He is fortunate that no close family or friends were affected by it. He also appreciates that he lives in a huge urban city, populated by democratic and liberal people, therefore it hasn’t made an impact on his day-to-day life, but understands that this may not be the case in rural areas or areas with a high concentration of Trump supporters.
Another cousin, Nassim, works as a lawyer in Los Angeles and took part in protests against the Muslim ban. Her photos depict unity and solidarity, showing how people can work together and fight for what they believe in.
It is reassuring to know that urban, affluent parts of America continue to celebrate diversity and equality, and that my family haven’t faced any antagonism. However, I do wonder when my family and I will be able to visit our relatives in the US without feeling anxious about visa restrictions or airport security.
Despite being born in the UK, having a British passport and no religious views, in Trump’s eyes I am labelled differently due to my Iranian background and I am immediately seen as a threat. This kind of hostility is not going to lead to anything productive. The New York Times recently reported that interest in travelling to the US has decreased as well as reporting about the British Muslim teacher who was denied entry to the country for a school trip to New York; I’m therefore forced to reflect on what the future holds for Trump’s America and the ultimate travelling consequences that it will have.