Trump ban on refugees draws protests in Columbia
The S.C. employer of an Iranian woman stranded overseas by President Donald Trump’s travel ban is working to get her back to the United States.
Eric Martinez, founder of the technology start-up Modjoul, told Forbes he scrambled to get Nazanin Zinouri on an earlier flight back from Tehran when it became clear new President Trump was about to issue a travel ban for citizens of Iran and six other Muslim-majority nations.
“If we don’t fight for her, nobody is going to fight for her,” he said. “She has no family here. It’s us and her friends, and we’re the only ones with the business savvy to get this done.”
Zinouri, who graduated from Clemson University, had gone to home to Iran for three weeks to visit her family. Once Trump’s order was signed, she was unable to board any flight back to the United States.
Now, Zinouri is stranded.
How long is unclear. She could be stranded for the three months of the travel ban. Or it could be longer.
Martinez says the clock already is ticking. Zinouri’s current visa expires in March.
To help Zinouri, Martinez has reached out to Clemson and his business contacts on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as the offices of South Carolina’s U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.
Graham’s office is working on getting Zinouri back to the United States, said spokesman Kevin Bishop. But a flurry of legal rulings has created uncertainties as to what exceptions might exist to the president’s order.
While Zinouri has a valid work visa, she does not hold a “green card,” allowing legal permanent residency in the country, Bishop said.
As Zinouri waits in Tehran, her boss has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for any legal costs.
“She has a legal visa and she should be able to come back to the United States,” Martinez said. “She just went home to help her mom and her family out for a few weeks because she felt guilty living so far away.”
Read more from Forbes here.