Trump’s visa ban is as misdirected as it could be

Iranian Diplomacy- As he had promised during his presidential campaign, the US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that restricts entry to the United States for immigrants and refugees.

The order, dubbed ‘extreme vetting’, denies citizens of seven countries, including Iran, entry to the United States for 90 days. However, the action could be extended, in which case visa issuance for thousands of Iranians will undergo more difficulties.

Trump’s measures on his first days in the White House has handed the optimists a rude awakening, undermining hopes that Trump’s presidency would moderate the positions he took during his presidential campaign. Apparently, he is about to put to work the maxims that helped him ascend to power.

Trump’s most controversial slogans were his vows to build a wall on the Mexican border and impose bans or restrictions on refugees and immigrants, Muslims in particular, upon entry to the United States. His orders indicate that he does have faith in what he said and tries to implement them.

But why is Iran included in Trump’s list? What is the truth behind this egregious mistake?

A glance at the Iranian population that have chosen to travel to and settle in the United States over the past decades demonstrates that they are clear from labels of terrorism and security threats. Besides, the Iranian diaspora has been head and shoulders above most other immigrant communities in terms of cultural contribution, education, and wealth. Far from a burden on the American society, the Iranian diaspora’s capital, services, and expertise have made them one of the distinguished strata in the country.

There is no logic behind depriving and restricting Iranian families residing in the United States. It will not lead to the results the Trump administration pursues, but will, as sanctions did, undermine the life of ordinary people and hundreds of thousands of Iranians living in the United States, who have no hostility with the country or the government. In fact, they have long been accused by some hardliner political circles in Iran as being Westernized, stupefied by the US, or lacking Islamic honor.

Trump’s unwise move, which blurs the line between Iranian citizens and chaotic, failed states like Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Syria is not a minor blunder and its ramifications will definitely challenge Trump and his administration in the future.

The only reason that might have convinced Trump for the move, beside complete unawareness about the multiple aspects of the decision, is his extremely negative view of the government of the Islamic Republic, its regional policies, and its alleged support for anti-American terrorist groups. A strong likelihood is that he is trying to warn the rulers of Iran that the honeymoon of the nuclear deal with the Obama administration is over and his administration’s approach to the Islamic Republic is one of hostility and distrust.

Trump has mistaken the target. Determined to punish the establishment in Iran, he is punishing hundreds of thousands of Iranian families living in the US as well as thousands of students and nonstudents who have been planning to travel to the United States.

By accident or design, the move is exactly what many hardliners in Iran longed for: to distract interaction between the two nations in order to assert their own positions. To put an end to further cooperation between the two countries’ middle classes and to keep the wall of distrust between the sides. With President Trump’s order in place, who needs to install anti-American billboards in Iranian cities?

On whatever grounds, the punishment of the Iranian middle class  is an unprecedented move in the two sides’ relations since the Islamic Revolution, indicating that Trump does not think like his Democrat and Republican predecessors and does not take into account the most basic principles of such decisions that could affect the lives and times of millions.

Has any Iranian citizen, in American territory or away, ever committed any terrorist act or created a serious threat to the interest of US citizens, to deserve an entry ban, even temporarily? Another question that comes to mind is why countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, whose terrorist nationals have killed thousands of Americans inside and outside the US, not included in the black list.

Perhaps, Trump had better review the results of the many opinion polls, conducted by American institutes on Middle East countries and nations, to see how people of the US’ closest allies in the region, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, oppose their government’s positions regarding the US. Or how well the deep anti-American sensations of the people in the region match the black list he has established.

* This piece was originally published in the moderate website Asr-e Iran. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect Iranian Diplomacy’s editorial policy.