U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham made a quick stop Monday in Clemson to express his concern for Nazanin Zinouri, the Clemson University graduate student who was stopped in Dubai while trying Friday to return to the United States.
Meanwhile, S.C. universities – including the University of South Carolina and Clemson – reached out to students affected by a travel ban imposed late Friday by the new presidential administration.
President Donald Trump’s executive order bars citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the United States.
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Zinouri was detained at Dubai International Airport after arriving from Tehran, where she had been visiting family, on her way back to the United States.
“From what I’ve been told by her friends, she was taken off a plane in Dubai, and the TSA agents in Dubai said it was a result of the order issued by President Trump,” said Graham, R-Seneca. “If that’s the case, we’ve made a mistake. My goal is to protect America from terrorists coming into our country, not to keep this young lady out.”
Zinouri wrote about the incident on her Facebook page. Her post subsequently went viral, attracting more than 200,000 shares as of Monday afternoon.
Modjoul employees seemed hopeful Graham’s visit would help get Zinouri back to Clemson soon, and the senator made it clear he intended to make that happen.
“She’s a valid visa holder, she’s a Clemson University graduate, she’s paying taxes and she’s adding value to this business,” Graham said. “She’s here lawfully, she’s smart, she’s intelligent, she adds value to our country, and I’ll find a way to fix this problem.”
The office of South Carolina’s other U.S. senator – U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston – said Monday that it had “been in touch with Ms. Zinouri, Clemson and (Customs and Border Patrol officials) regarding this matter, and are awaiting clarification and more information.”
USC meets with international students
University of South Carolina officials Monday met with about two dozen students from some of the seven Muslim-majority countries listed in President Trump’s travel ban.
Three more meetings are planned before Friday as the university works to answer international students’ questions about the president’s order, USC spokesman Jeff Stensland said. “Some international students have had questions and concerns.”
USC has 67 current students from Iraq, 59 from Iran, seven from Libya and two from Syria. Trump’s order has not directly affected any of them, the school has said.
In an email over the weekend, the state’s flagship university told international students that USC is committed to their safety but advised them against leaving the country for now.
Clemson University offered the same advice Saturday.
“The executive order is aimed at new entries into the United States, those not yet in the country, and we believe nothing in this executive order will compel you to leave before the expiration of your status,” USC said in the email. “However, we would advise you to not leave the country in the short term in case the executive order creates issues with re-entry.”
USC’s meeting Monday with students was closed to the public because of federal privacy regulations, Stensland said.
155 students at Clemson affected
In a letter to the Clemson community, president Jim Clements announced a series of meetings to help students and faculty understand the how the travel ban might affect them.
The university says it has about 115 students from the countries named in the travel ban.
“Clemson knows of no students from the affected countries who are currently traveling outside the United States,” Clements said in the letter.
Avery Wilks of The State and Georgie Silvarole of the Anderson Independent Mail contributed
State House protest planned
Opponents of President Trump's refugee shutdown will protest Tuesday at the S.C. State House
When: 5 to 7 p.m.
Why: The group’s Facebook page calls the event an “an emergency demonstration in response to Trump administration policies curtailing refugee resettlement and banning travel from seven countries.”