When senior Kasra Soltani Nia was seven years old, he emigrated to Davis from Iran as a political refugee. The majority of his family still lives in Iran, and he worries he might never see them again.
Q: Are you Muslim?
A: No, I am not Muslim. However, I respect all religions, and I don’t really affiliate with one particular religion.
Q: Have you been affected personally by the executive order?
A: This really affected me closely because one of our friends, he went to Iran and he came back to the US on Monday and Trump signed the executive order on Friday. So if he had moved his plane ticket one week later, he wouldn’t have been able to come back to the states. He did get in because he’s not a citizen. He only has a green card. His family would have been here, and he has a job here. These people contribute to American productivity, American society so the fact that we’re shutting them out for absolutely no reason just seems dumb to me.
Q: Which of the seven countries do you have ties to?
A: My family is from Iran, so I immigrated to the United States when I was seven. Another part of this rule connects to me because we came to the states as political refugees and we sought asylum. The executive order puts a ban on all Syrians indefinitely from coming here, even though there is still a massive civil war with 500,000 people dead. I’m forever grateful to this nation for giving me this opportunity to be here and escape the turmoil that was in my country. I’m saddened that this attitude is completely reversed. This is honestly a repeat of history because we’ve seen this done to many other ethnic groups, for example, in the 1800s with the Irish or when we turned down all of those Jewish people in the wake of World War II and now we’re doing the same thing. I’m sure we’re going to regret it in the future.
Q: Do you still have family in Iran?
A: The majority of my dad’s family is actually in the states, but all of my mom’s family—her mother, her brothers and sisters—is there. Once Trump actually signed this executive order, Iran signed a similar executive order where they said US citizens couldn’t come to the country. So who knows? I may never be able to go back and my family and my home country ever again.
Q: Do you think the ban will last indefinitely?
A: This is something that they will end up keeping because the US wants to protect its interests, and one of the main reasons that a country like Saudi Arabia is not put on that list—which was home to the majority of the terrorists from 9/11—is because Saudi Arabia is a really close ally in the middle east to the US, while for example, Iran, the government is always funding Shiite terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, and they’re always chanting “Death to America” so obviously the relationship between Iran and the United States isn’t there. We have to remember that this is an issue between the governments, not the people. The people don’t necessarily believe everything that the government believes. The people are different. Unless some cooperation between the nations occurs, which is highly unlikely, and all seven other nations, to be honest, then this ban will be renewed.
Q: Do you think any of the seven countries are more affected than the others?
A: I can’t think of a specific country, but I think of all the potential that is being lost from the talent that lives in those countries because various companies and organizations here in the states are saying “Okay, well this person that we were collaborating with can’t come here.” For example, this year there is an Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. This is the third time he’s being nominated for an Oscar. He won it two or three years ago. This year, he’s the favorite to win it. But he can’t come to the states because his visa is waived because of the executive order, and if he wins, he won’t be able to accept his award, which is sad.
Q: Have you ever been stereotyped because of where you’re from?
A: Davis is a really welcoming community. They try to look beyond the differences. I would say it has occurred, but there’s no specific case in which I can point to and say I felt deeply put down. The students here have been extremely supportive, and they don’t judge me or set aside predetermined thoughts and their ideas based off of where I’m from.
Q: What is it like to live in Iran?
A: The government in Iran is extremely based on religion. For example, one of the ideals of Islam is for women to wear a headscarf. So everyone in Iran, regardless of what religion you are, because there are Christians and Jewish people in Iran among other religions; however, everyone must wear a headscarf and in many ways, they abuse the power of religion to enforce their totalitarian regime. All the money that they export to Shiite terrorist organizations in Lebanon and Yemen, they could be spending on their people. But, they’re not. They don’t like to collaborate with the international community. With the whole nuclear issue, prices were dramatically inflated because of that because of the slowing economy. People are just not able to live as well as they possibly could if the government were not in such turmoil. The people in Iran, they’re 100 percent good people. They just need a better government to rule them, and they shouldn’t expect foreign aid because if they actually want a change in their nation, then they have to work for it just as every other nation has done.