Local Iranian-American Optimistic About Reversal of Travel Ban on Muslim Nations

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In his flurry of initial executive actions, Pres. Joe Biden reversed the “Muslim travel ban” implemented by the Trump administration.

On Tuesday, NBC 7 spoke with an Iranian- American man in San Diego who's hopeful for the change but also feeling the effects of the damage already caused, which has kept families apart.

Shahriar Afshar came to specifically San Diego from Iran at the age of 10. He told NBC 7 that he's fully living the promise of the American dream, but now, having seen how the ban damaged parts of his family, he said it’s difficult to trust that it won’t happen again.

"That ban caused a giant ripple effect in the community," Afshar said. "The Iranian community -- just one part of many, many other Muslim communities impacted."

The tumultuous relationship between the two countries has always been a challenge for Afshar, who has raised a family in his adoptive country while maintaining a connection to his birthplace. Afshar said the past four years have been especially difficult insofar as trying to shield the news from his children.

“He or she can watch the news and social media just like anybody else," Afshar said. "And when you see all the xenophobic and anti-Muslim conversations that the former president fanned ... being a kid is tough enough."

Afshar said the Trump administration's Muslim travel ban has caused lasting damage.

“It only hurt American families and prospective new citizens that would do anything to make a contribution to this country,” Afshar said.

Afshar's brother-in-law has been stuck in Iran, separated from his wife and son, for two years.

"Not only have we demonized him and isolated him in Iran, we have traumatized a 2-year-old and the mother," Afshar said. "And that's just one story. There are hundreds of thousands of these stories stuck in the court system."

Afshar said he's waiting to see how things will change, with so much work left to make the policy reversal effective.

“I am concerned and frustrated, and have a lot of anxiety about the sustainability of the policies of this Biden administration," Afshar said. "Will it last and will it carry over into the next administration?"

Afshar believes any loyal citizen wants to strengthen national security and public safety but doing so by instilling fear or creating damaging stereotypes and ripping families apart should never happen.

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