By Morgan Brizee
Mohammad Maleki spent all of his tuition money on multiple boarding passes and then had to catch up on a couple weeks worth of classwork because of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. The ban is an executive order President Donald Trump issued that prohibits people with passports from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the United States.
Mohammad Maleki is a 23-year-old political science major from Iran who came to HSU as a freshman in fall 2015. Maleki was coming back from visiting his family during winter break when he found himself unable to get back to the U.S. for the spring semester. Before he even got his boarding pass to the US, he had issues renewing his visa. There is no American consulate in Iran, so Maleki went to Dubai to renew his visa. He waited weeks in a hotel until he got approved from his background check by the United States.
“It was written that my application may take days to several weeks[to get approved],” Mohammad said. “They didn’t give me any information.”
After waiting three weeks, he received his visa and passport. Mohammad then bought his boarding pass in Dubai for a flight to the San Fransisco Airport. He wasn’t alerted that anything was wrong until he went to the gate to board his flight. The security told him that he was not allowed to come to the U.S. because of his nationality.
“I was in transit in the airport and I didn’t know what to do,” Mohammad said.
He was told that because of Donald Trump’s immigration ban he would not be able to board. He then had to get another flight but this time to Turkey to figure out what to do next.
“I couldn’t go back to Dubai and I couldn’t go back to my country,” Mohammad said. “If I go back to my country I have to go to the military for two years.”
Maleki was unsure of what was going to happen next. Turkey was the only place he could go without a visa. Then he learned about a judge in Boston suspending Trump’s ban.
“I got a call from my father telling me to go to Boston,” Mohammad said.
In order for him to go to Boston he had to go from Turkey to the Frankfurt airport in Germany because it was only a German airline that was allowing flights to the U.S. despite the ban.
“Again, from the Frankfurt they didn’t let me get into board,” Mohammad said. “They said again because of your nationality.”
So again, he flew back to Turkey to figure out the next plan of action to try to get back. Another judge, this time a federal judge in Seattle, Judge James Robart could temporarily block Trump’s ban.
“I asked Turkish airline if the news was true,” Mohammad said. “But they didn’t know what was going to happen in a couple hours or tomorrow.”
So, he decided to take yet another chance and buy another ticket to the United States. This time it worked and he made it past the gate and into the plane on his way to the US. All while this was happening his younger brother Amir was in the United States waiting for his brother’s arrival back.
“We had a consideration of me going back if my brother wouldn’t be able to come back,” Amir said.
If Mohammad couldn’t come back both his brother and him would travel back to Iran and join the military. The current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, made an issue that students with temporary visas elsewhere were able to come back to Iran twice, each time for up to three months without having to join the military.
“I already used my two chances so I can’t go back,” Mohammad said. “If I go back I have to enlist.”
Once Mohammad made it back into the United States he had another challenge. Mohammad had to get permission from all his teachers to allow him to join the class after school had already begun.
Jared Larson is lecturer for the department of politics. Larson is Mohammad’s teacher for two of his political science classes. He still remembers getting the email from Mohammad that he was having issues getting back into the United States because of Trump’s ban.
“I about jumped out of my own damn skin,” Larson said. “I responded saying ‘that I was embarrassed and ashamed that this is happening to you’.”
Larson along with Mohammad’s other teachers did not have to think much when accepting Mohammad into class late in the semester. They just knew that it was going to take a lot of work for him to catch up.
Amanda Admire, research associate and lecturer for department of geology, is another one of Mohammad’s teachers that was able to help guide Mohammad in catching up with the class.
“Once I was contacted I didn’t have an issue with helping him get back in the course and working with him to get him caught up on the material on everything,” Admire said.
Mohammad took multiple quizzes and assignments all at once in order to get caught up on his schoolwork. But the teachers weren’t the only ones on campus helping Mohammad feel comfortable again.
Megan Mefford, coordinator of international admission and immigration, was a big factor in helping Mohammad get back into the swing of things.
“Mohammad and I kept in close contact by email and phone,” Mefford said. “I was the first one to know about Mohammad and yes, I was worried.”
Mohammad has now caught up with his homework and tests and is able to focus on current work. However, his brother Amir was unable to get his teachers to let him join classes late at College of the Redwoods. Amir is now talking with a lawyer about getting his I-20 student visa reinstated since it was revoked after not being able to rejoin classes.
“The more the merrier, the more diversity of identity and of experience the better,” Larson said. “We are a weaker group because of this policy choice.”
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