An Iranian scientist was turned away at an airport gate in Germany this weekend as she was set to board a plane bound to Boston. Samira Asgari had just earned her Ph.D. from a Swiss university and was ready to start a postdoctoral fellowship when on Saturday morning, at Frankfurt Airport, she was stopped from boarding her plane by an American consulate. She is to study gene response to TB at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“He said that it’s the U.S. government who issues the visa, and if they change their mind, the visa isn’t valid,” she says. Unfortunately, on Friday, President Trump signed an order that bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, from entering America. Trump's immigration ban prohibits anyone from these countries, under any visa, to enter the US for at least 120 days.
Because she is Iranian, Asgari, was sent back to Switzerland. She had given up her apartment in anticipation of the move. So, now she has nowhere to stay. Her luggage is also missing.
Asgari said in an interview that as an Iranian, she had pictured America as a dreamland. But in light of what just happened, she thinks this isn’t the America she imagined anymore. She is set to work with Dr. Soumya Raychaudhuri on the research, and he expresses concern what the ban will do for scientific research, the WCVB 5 says.
"I worry what this means in the future, even for something as simple as setting up scientific conferences," Raychaudhuri said. For years, Iran has topped the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, and so it is common that Iranian scientists would face extra scrutiny from US airports, especially due to the nuclear proliferation issue in Iran. According to The Atlantic, however, Trump's immigration ban affects many scientists who have nothing to do with nuclear research.