President Donald Trump released a statement Wednesday celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and praising Iranian immigrants ― one of the groups he is working to block from entering the United States.
“For many years, I have greatly enjoyed wonderful friendships with Iranian-Americans, one of the most successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history,” Trump’s statement read. “They come from diverse religious backgrounds ― including Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Baha’i ― but all share an affection for their ancestral heritage.”
But Iran is one of six countries from which Trump seeks to ban immigration to the U.S., under an executive order released earlier this month.
Rulings from federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have blocked the travel restrictions from going into effect. But the ban has still prevented some Iranians from traveling to the United States to celebrate with their families here.
“My mother is old. She is going to pass away soon. My daughter may not be able to see her again, and that would kill her. This is supposed to be a time of celebration, but I am so anxious,” Minoo Yousefi, an Iranian-American woman who lives in Los Angeles, told The New York Times. “This is America, where we came for freedom.”
Alan Tahmasebi, an Iranian-American supermarket supervisor in Irvine, California, told The Associated Press in February that his parents might be unable to travel to the U.S. for the birth of their second grandchild.
“It was a land of opportunity but now, I don’t think so,” he said. “They wish to come here and visit my new baby. They never worked with the army, with the government (in Iran) ― I have no idea what is going on.”
Mahdis Keshavarz, an Iranian-American media strategist in Los Angeles, told Agence France-Presse that her father died in February and that family members could not travel to the U.S. to say goodbye to him because of the ban.
“They stole from my father the chance to say goodbye to the ones he loved the most,” Keshavarz said.
Despite the restrictions, Trump on Wednesday said he wished “freedom” for the Iranian people and those celebrating Nowruz.
“To the Iranian people and all those around the world celebrating Nowruz: On behalf of the American people, I wish you freedom, dignity, and wealth,” his statement said.