How the Travel Ban Shattered Hope for My Family

“It has forced a huge sacrifice upon our family only to score a political point.”

Rashad Moarref, his partner Farnoosh, and his parents. Mother Jones illustration/Rashad Moarref

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Editor’s Note: On the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Mother Jones asked readers to share their stories about how the ban has affected them. We’re following up with readers and publishing their stories as they’re told to us, and will continue to in the weeks to come. One reader, Rashad Moarref, wrote and submitted this story to us. We’ve lightly edited the response for length and clarity. 

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” These words hit home for my wife and I who are Iranian-American citizens living in Los Angeles. Supporters of the travel ban argue that it is to make America safe. Even if this fallacy were true, should it come at the expense of sacrificing people’s essential liberty to move freely including to reunite with family

The ban has indefinitely barred our Iranian parents from visiting us at home. They have to spend the rest of their lives away from their children for whom they have sacrificed everything. Our first child was born in September of 2017 and our parents can’t wait to see their first grandchild. It’s heartbreaking to see them sending kisses over a video call, reading a book to their little grandchild, and only imagining what it’d be like to hold him. Our only chance to reunite with them is to visit them outside the US. As a full-time pharmacist and software engineer, that leaves us with a maximum of two weeks each year.

The refusal letter Rashad’s father received.

Courtesy of Rashad Moarref

My parents had visited us three times in the past ten years by going through extreme vetting processes. However, their last visa application was denied in January of 2018 after 15 months of waiting. They are 66 and 55 years old. As a pediatrician, my father has spent his entire life caring for families and children in need, and my mother is a passionate math teacher. How could anyone find that these individuals are a national security threat? If we knew that there is any path for them to visit us, we would remain hopeful. But the fact that the current law bans them for an indefinite amount of time and under any circumstances—that really shatters all hope.

The ban effectively treats us as second-class US citizens. It has posed undue hardship on our family by separating parents, children, and grandchildren, and taking away our simple hope to have our family’s love and support in raising our newborn. It has forced a huge sacrifice upon our family only to score a political point.

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