CLEMSON, SC – U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday banning residents from seven countries in the Middle East from traveling into the United States.
One of the people affected by the order is recent Clemson graduate Nazanin Zinouri, who was visiting family in Tehran when the order was signed.
The ban was enacted Saturday, leaving some travelers stuck outside of the U.S. without a clear indication of when they would be allowed back.
Zinouri graduated from Clemson University in 2016 with a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering while also working as a graduate research assistant for 3 years. She works as a Data Modeler at Modjoul, a company that helps companies track workers and equipment to increase productivity. In a phone call Sunday with 7 News reporter Krystyne Brown, Zinouri said she has been living in the United States for nearly 7 years and now calls it home.
To get her current multiple-entry visa, she says she was vetted 3 times by the government and has never had any problems like this before.
“It was definitely a shock. It was something that I never saw coming,” she said. “My entire life is there. My job is there. I don’t really want to think about 90 days or possibly more.”
Recently she went to Iran for a vacation to see her family. As soon as she heard about Trump signing the order, she booked an earlier flight home. She made it to Dubai smoothly, but as she was trying to board a plane to the US, she was stopped and denied re-entry. Now, she isn’t sure when she’ll be able to get back to the Upstate.
”It has all been really awful in one word and the other thing is, a lot of stress. A lot of uncertainty. A trip that was supposed to be a fun, nice vacation with my family was really all destroyed,” she explained. “It is all just kind of I don’t know, sad at the same time trying to stay hopeful and thinking about options and thinking about what to do and trying to find any way possible to go back home.”
This is the statement that she posted on Facebook about the experience that has since gone viral:
She says she is getting help from friends to take care of her new dog still here. As far as her house, job and car goes, she’s still not sure what she’ll do if she has to stay for 90 or more days during the travel ban.
During protests outside of the GSP International airport Sunday, protestors called for national leaders to bring her home. Thousands have also reached out to her on social media asking how to help.
“I have never met them but it is almost like I know them because they have been so nice. It definitely helps me get through this really really horrible time,” she said. “I want them to know that it gives me hope and it makes me believe that I will actually go home.”
The President of Clemson University, James P. Clements, issued a statement on the recent ban:
“For those faculty, staff, and students who could potentially be affected by this Executive Order, we would advise that you defer any travel outside of the U.S. for the time being if at all possible. If you have been affected by this Executive Order or if you have any concerns about travel plans for yourself, your family, students or employees, please reach out to either Tina Rousselot de St Ceran, director of international services (email@example.com), or Sharon Nagy, vice provost for global engagement (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the Office of Global Engagement at (864) 656-3614.Our international students, faculty, and staff are important members of our university community. We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation and keep the university community updated as more information becomes available.”
U.S. Senator for S.C. Lindsey Graham sent a response to our request for information and input on the executive order:
“The Clemson situation has been brought to our attention. Sen Graham routinely helps individuals who face issues with the federal government. It’s something he takes very seriously. We have tried to contact the individual in question. If she wants us to, we will be happy to look into this issue on her behalf.” Zinouri and her employer tell 7 News they are working with the Senator.
A GoFundMe called “Let Naz In” has been set up to help Zinouri with her travel, legal and communication expenses while she tries to get home. If you want to help, go the the account by clicking HERE.