The Iranian American Perspective On The U.S. And Iran


This is one A.. I'm todd's Willik in Washington in Washington state last week and more than sixty travelers of Iranian descent were detained and questioned at the US. Canada border now. Many among them were Iranian Americans pickens United States citizens which meant they should have been granted lawful entry without delay. US Customs and Border Protection claimed the initial reports on these detachments were false. We have more on that story in just a few minutes here on Wednesday but up I in two thousand fourteen. Jason Ryan was working as a journalist in Tehran. When the Iranian then government forces raided his home arrested he and his wife? y'All GonNa also journalist. He was held hostage for five hundred forty four days before his release taken captive active by the Iranian revolutionary. Guard Corps costume. Sulamani was a major general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps before he was killed in the US air strike over the weekend. Resigned joins me now with his perspective on this latest confrontation with Iran. Jason is the author of the memoir prisoner my five hundred forty four days in an Iranian prison. He's also a global opinions writer at the Washington Post and he joins me now. Jason Great to talk to you once again. Thanks for having me on talk Jason the I. R. G.. See How do you think they'll respond to the killing of General Suleimani. It's GonNa take some time for us to issue how this actually plays out there. Still in the midst of their public mourning for general soul money And that is typical of Of Shia tradition. But I think that we should expect is the unexpected. That's been the hallmark of Iran's responses over the years it frankly because they don't have the kind of military might that could Stack up against What the US has in terms of firepower? So you might concern. Concern is the response will be audacious in nature targeting potentially American citizens or interests in the region along with possibility even of attempts to to make attacks here on US soil. I don't want to be alarmist about that but a I think that the the nature of The killing of of of general money is such that They feel like they're gonNA after respond in some sort of commensurate way But as I said it'll be a matter of time before before we actually know what that we read last evening. Being that the Ayatollah Khamenei spoke to the Iranian National Security Council in a rare meeting and instructed them at the response should be out in the open not Iranian Iranian proxy Shiite militia but Irani and military out in the open. I may have also read that. It should be against American military targets. But I'm not sure if that last part is right. How do you interpret purpose? Those instructions I- I think that that's kind of par for the course I told Hamas one of the original members of Of this regime one of the founding members has been supreme leader for over thirty years now And one of the main pillars of of his reign as you want to call it. That has been a staunch anti us. Approach I think that we've seen the Iran's is proxies in Iraq Syria Yemen Afghanistan Do very damaging destructive things against Our allies and in some cases against American soldiers I think this is an indication that you know. There's response we'll have Iran on signature on it Jason. The New York Times quoted Afghan Asta scholar on Iran at the Naval Postgraduate School. WHO said we are in uncharted territory? And the truth of the matter is nobody knows how Iran is going to respond. I don't even think Iran knows but I think there is a bloodlust right now in the Revolutionary Guards What does that mean? Aside from the immediate anger over Sulamani assasination. Look these are people who have been involved in armed conflicts conflict Since the early nineteen eighty s I Iran fought a of an incredibly bloody eight-year war with Iraq under Saddam Hussein at the time and Over a million people were killed in that war. This was the last sort of a front to front a trench style. wore the that maybe the world will ever see a but these are people who have a lot of experience with killing and also the ideology of of the Islamic Republic and the Revolutionary Guard Corps is is kind of guided by that ideology is one of seeking martyrdom for martyrdom for the cause laws of the revolution so You know these people are very afraid of dying if you WANNA put it like that and and I think that for for those in the I. R. G. C. Somali was such a revered figure. Such a cult of personality built around him in Iran state media that that That this is a major affront to those individuals who part of that That Revolutionary Guard Corps her and was designed to such. Now you've been writing in the Washington Post of course about this confrontation and on the other side of this calculus. You write that. Even though there are a lot of different opinions in Iran about how to respond to this escalation as they see it from the United States certainly in Esscalation that in the end no one in Iran in any position. Authorioty actually wants a war Do you believe that that's the case. Do believe that. That's an adequate ballast towards Spiraling out of control control here. Look I would. I would say that there actually are some people within the power structure who Would would actually welcome a war. I think that the the Iranian people Are Are the ones that you have to think about. In this case there's eighty million of them They've been through a long war. They've been through economic warfare in the form of sanctions nations. These people are tired. They don't want to To be Subjected to another decade or or generation of conflict with a foreign power so that being said although Iran's government is not necessarily or isn't I should say representative. There is a need to bend to public opinion from time to time. And I just don't see the likelihood of Iranians lining up to join the military frontlines in this in this specific circumstance. So I think there will be a tendency to trying right void a prolonged conflict with us. I certainly don't think it's in anybody's interest. We're going to be speaking later in the show with Iranian Americans Arkins getting the perspective on Iranian Americans in Los Angeles in across the country and their reaction to this latest escalation. But we've been hearing from listeners. Jason including Zafar. Listen Hi my name is Afar. I'm calling from Fairfax Virginia. I'm Moosonee from Afghanistan and go. I don't defense money in any way. I'm really gravely concerned about the consequences of a possible war with Iran affecting up Ghanistan. It's very fadul situation and while L. Afghanistan is on like the US we also have a neighbor nealon and I think that's GonNa be very precarious to carry on both of those relationship nations ship on Afghan and then we don't need any more naked baby. We don't need any more attention because as it is we're already dealing with so much and this is just it's something that's GonNa set everything back and I hope I hope it doesn't get to that. Thanks my mistake I I. It's hard isn't Iranian-american. Clearly Roots in Afghanistan Dan adjacent but he is concerned about regional stability ajar as are a lot of people look I. I think that that's been an issue in the Middle East and western Asia for a very long time. It'll continue to be and I know it's not a popular view among Among eh the US policy establishment. But you know so money was Fighting alongside the US in In a way in the fight against Isis this was there the figure that was sort of most successful in putting down Isis in In Syria and Iraq in coordination the weather or not direct coordination is not abundantly clear but with the United States An and I think it's that concern that this will be even more of a destabilizing Turn of events is one that's shared by a lot of people inside Iran and regionally that's is not to say that People aren't necessarily fans of him or the I. R. J. C. A.. But the fact is there is a sort of unspoken contract between states states and their populations whether or not they're democratically representatives states or not That there's an expectation that the state is is going to provide certain services education healthcare jobs also security within your borders and as is disruptive as the I. R. G. C. has been in many ways. One cannot argue the fact that Iran has been mostly free from internal internal attacks on their country over the past. It's Jason we're going to go in just a minute We've been talking about the prospects of escalation and re-escalation Shen and spiraling confrontation. Is there a way that you see to peacefully Disa- deescalate tensions at this point real estate. Always they're always as a way to de-escalate tensions. You know any war and conflict. We've ever had ends with negotiation. So let's let's get to that a little sooner than than than having to put American troops Lives on the line unfortunately You know the the. US government has made the decision to not allow Iran's Foreign Minister Amodu a give a talk at the UN This week I'm no fan of his and I've have written very critically about him In my own personal feelings about him in my book because he was a key figure in my Prolonged period as a hostage hostage of the Islamic Republic at the end of the day though there are rules and regulations that the UN we host the UN and part of that that hosting is that we have to allow all member states representatives into the US to air their views. When we don't do that we're closing off pathways diplomacy and I think that's mistake? The Jason Resign is global opinions writer at The Washington Post and author of prisoner. My five hundred forty four days in an Iranian prison Jason as always is your perspective means so much to us. Thanks for being here is pleasure. Thank you still to come. We'll add more voices to this conversation. Talk about how. Iranian Americans are responding to the escalating conflict between the United States in Iran. So stick with us. I'm todd will lick. You're listening to one A.. From WMU and NPR support for this podcast and the following message. Come from Uber. Uber is committed to safety and to continuously raising the bar to help make safer journeys for everyone for starters. All drivers background checked before their first ride and screened on an ongoing basis and now uber has introduced a brand new safety feature called. I check which can detect if a trip goes unusually off course and check in to provide support to learn more about Uber's commitment to safety visit Uber Dot com slash safety fifty a new reason to get up on Saturdays because now up. I gives you the biggest news of the day on Saturdays to. NPR's morning news. PODCASTS expands to your weekend weekend every Saturday at eight. Am Eastern. I'm Scott Simon and I'm Lou Garcia Navarro. Start Your Day informed six days a week now from NPR news. Welcome back one A.. It's Todd's Willeke as we were talking with. Jason resigned on. We took a call from afar from Fairfax Virginia. WHO said he was concerned about? Regional tensions escalation with ron destabilizing his home country of Afghanistan and Secretary of State Mike pompeo appearing before the press now says that Iran is he's actively and this is a quote quote actively working to undermine the peace process in Afghanistan by continuing its long global effort to support militant groups there. That's that's the statement from the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We're going to keep following that story as people look toward regional stability in the confrontation between the United States in in Iran. But let's move it domestically now because there were more than sixty Iranians and Iranian Americans many of them. US citizens reportedly detained detained at the border with Canada over the weekend. Why did that happen? Such a move would be unprecedented. President Trump's travel ban implemented in two thousand seventeen included Iran on and has resulted in increased scrutiny and barriers of travelers to a of Iranian descent entering the United States. Customs and Border Protection says much the reporting so far has been false on this story joining us by phone to talk about the weekends. Border issue is Sarah Vini Metro reporter for the Los Sandra Time Sarah. Thanks for being here. Thanks for having me. Also with me in the studio is on Connor Young's homeland security correspondent for the New York Times. I want to have you thanks so much. We're we're talking about escalating tensions between the US and Iran and how it impacts iranian-americans and Sara you reported on the detaining of these Iranian Americans at the border last weekend In the La Times many of these people are US citizens. What kinds of stories did you hear? What do we know about exactly what happened? Yes so there been a few people that we've been able to talk to you over the course of the last few days who shared experiences of sort of being pulled aside given a slip and taken into a a general room where a lot of other people of Iranian descent were waiting to be questioned by a CPA DP officials and they sort of described the questioning the they received. which was you know kind of some of the basic questions that you would expect at the border but then also names? A family members the immigration status of family members Whether their fathers served in the Iranian military which is mandatory in Iran although some wealthy people have been able to sort of buy out of being in the military all that being he said there are there questions that people especially who are American citizens did not expect being subjected to didn't expect It's troubling I mean. US citizens. I'm not a lawyer and we're about to introduce a person who is who can help us on this Sarah but a US citizen. It does say on the inside of my passport passport that I'm supposed to be sped through without delay Not a not a citizen of a foreign country at the US border but a US citizen. Why would they be detained at all? All it's a good question you know. CB says that they were not detained But our our first hand witnesses are people who actually went through the process of being held. Say that they spent several hours in some cases. It's eleven hours sometimes. Twelve hours In in this room basically waiting to be able to cross back into the country which which they live in America so I we're still trying to get answers on exactly what happened and why so? Many people were delayed for so long zone Kinda young the New York Times. You've been reporting on this to. Can you tell them right. So the difficult thing here and in the confusing thing is that if you look at C. P. Statement what they're denying is that people were detained or turned away but what they're not denying that people were given what's known as a secondary screening now secondary screening. When you look at what what is described from these witness accounts that seems to be what happened and they have not denied that so to describe that c. p. said that they did not detain anybody as as a result of their country of origin? However they did not deny that that anybody was given a secondary screening that being taken to a waiting room and held held for hours and questioned about their background as a result of their country of origin? You speak to current as well as former customs and border protection officials. They they will tell you that. One of the factors for taking somebody in for that extra. Scrutiny is their country of origin for furthermore when there is an incident like we've I've seen over the past week when there is a heightened threat level from Iran and even when DHS issues terrorism advisory now highlighting Iran. When you speak to CB officials they will tell you? I mean we spoke to a former commissioner for customs and Border Protection. WHO said after you issue that bulletin agents on the ground are going to look at country origin? It is now going to be given a heightened emphasis and for that you look at these agents on the ground. They see this bulletin. They're going to then look at people's country of origin and probably take them in for extra scrutiny. We reached out to sea for comment. They didn't give us a response response. zone on January fifth see. BP tweeted in this is social media posts that CPI is detaining iranian-americans and refusing their entry into the United States because of country of origin are false dimension that reports that VHS CB has issued a related directive are also false. Now you were just talking about the bulletin. Yeah I don't know if a bulletin editor are different things in bureaucratic lands or what exactly this means. So they were denying is what was put out on social media by certain advocacy groups a national directive that they would detain in pullover Iran Iranians who looked quote unquote suspicious. That's what they were denying. However as you noted in what we reported on Saturday the Department of Homeland Security issued an update due to its terrorism advisory now these advisories are issued periodically? The last one was issued July of last year. And what it does is it is a I warning is supposed to be a guide for law enforcement in the public around the country. To be on heightened alert and what this advisory said is that what Iran is now. There's now a heightened threat level for Iran and. They've warned that there is going to or that. There could be. I should say Retaliation from Iran. Iran has said that themselves and what they warned of is that it could come in the form of a inspired attacked by homegrown extremists. Miss there were. CPP's works But more likely that it could be a cyber attack but again and that happens on Saturday We also know based off of a letter that we've obtained let's see BP sent to members of Congress that there was also a a telephone conference by. CB P officials with multiple leaders across the country in the agency saying to be on heightened alert. So you have those two things then. This happens and as C. B. P. officials have said when something like this happens there's going to be an added focus on country of origin so it sounds like while the top of the hierarchy is saying no bulletin no bulletin the reality on the ground for agents in the wickets in the booths. When when somebody steps up is there is a torrent of bulletins flying around regardless of who in the government issued them? And there's this this this heightened sense of of I'll call it threat if you're if you're a border official I want to bring in David. Leopold former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association practicing immigration. Gracious Attorney David. Welcome thanks for having me secondary screening for a US citizen As was just mentioned. Is that things things that appropriate if you have a US passport and your US citizen are you subjected to eleven hours of questioning absolutely not The US a US citizen returning from overseas or from Canada who shows a US passport and identifies him herself must be allowed entry into into United States. The only other issue would be common customs. Questions what did you buy overseas that sort of thing and the same actually goes for a lawful permanent resident a green card holder older. You know once they show their green card that once they establish their residency and their identification and they have a proper passport. They should be allowed in most circumstances to proceed into the United States so to detain somebody for eleven hours and ask about a military Family history or religion or politics or allegiance to the United States or to Iran or to any other country is illegal legal and this detention these detentions that have been described Reporting and and just now smack of illegal activity by customs customs and border protection. And if you read their tweet which you did if you read it carefully they do not deny the interogations. What they're denying thing is that they didn't that they Prohibited Entry and by law. They have to permit entry of any. US citizen into the United States And a lawful permanent resident for that matter Who establishes the residency so I don't trust that tweet. And frankly I don't trust anything. That customs and Border Protection. Says we know this is the same agency that that was perpetrating. Separation of children from their parents that perpetrated All kinds of of horrors over the last two years so their credibility is really low. Sarah Parveen what did you hear from the people you talked to about the condition the circumstances the the vibe of that time in detention if indeed it was ten or eleven hours there's no way it was pleasant What did you hear so one of the things I actually heard across the board word? was that the officers themselves. Were pretty friendly and weren't trying to give people a hard time while they were waiting That said you know it was as you said about sixty people Over the KORCEA of of Saturday who had been put into a large waiting room and so it was cramped. I heard descriptions of people saying that you know parents were kind of sitting down or curling up on the floor because there wasn't enough seats seats for everyone you know people were hungry and so the officers would try to bring snacks or toys for the kids The over all you know people were pretty distraught because they didn't think they would be in this situation and then there's a bunch of people sitting in a waiting room sort of being called hold up one by one asked questions being sent back and then if they had more questions being called back up again So it was just a little bit of a hectic tactic and yet prolonged at the same time situation. David I wanted to just go back to what David because he mentioned something very important. And that's CBP statement and again. It didn't acknowledge what seemed to have happened here you know. They denied that they were turning people. Away that in there were detainment but again that term it seems like they don't consider what happened to be detainment and thus they're not addressing what actually happened at the Washington into port of entry As far as the confusion as well of what happened. We've seen this before you know the guests here of said that today Age Age for our reporting showed as well the agents would rotate on shift. Come in and they'd be confused at what was happening. What's going on? There's a room full of these people here. This this isn't normal and we can go back. You opened up the segment by mentioning the travel ban. You know there is a history here of this administration rushing after a change and national security policy and agents at airports and at Port of entries being confused about how to implement David. I WANNA connect us to two thousand seventeen in the travel ban because in many senses this story with people from Iran isn't new parts of last week or new but the travel ban included included Iranians in barred Iranian nationals. From entering to this country at all in many Iranian Americans were affected at that time as well. Well look look. Let's be really clear. I think it's really important to separate out the the American citizens. First of all I mean they may be of Iranian descent but they they are u s citizens and they are entitled to expedited review and entrance into the United States period. I don't care what author politics are. I don't care what their allegiances I don't care what their family members do. These are United States citizens and for them to be treated differently because of national origin is illegal. It violates the constitution it violates the law and that's what see BP apparently from this reporting was engaging the you know and they can parse words and tell us this wasn't a detention quote unquote detention. But the question I have at that point is these children sleeping on on the floor and he's US citizen children sleeping on the floor in Blaine Washington at the CBT detention at the border facility We're AFRITA leave with these. US citizens free to get up and leave during that eleven hour period. It doesn't sound like it. This was a detention and this was illegal and it has nothing to do with our. It should have nothing to do with the current Current heightened tensions with Iran. And taking this us to travel ban. That was awful. And that was that was thrown out by that had to be reiterate redone and redone until finally they got it right in a much more watered down version of banning Iranians and others from the United States but still even the travel ban in its final iteration. The travel ban three point. Oh had to recognize that Iranians who are not citizens of the United States had ties to the United States. So what we find here. Three years later is now. This administration is justifying going after United States states. Citizens based on heightened tensions with a foreign country and this is this is a pattern. This is not something new that we're seeing in twenty twenty. We've we've seen this over the last three years we've seen increased denaturalization taking away of citizenship. Efforts we've seen DNA sampling at the border we've seen land seizures from US citizens at the southern border for the wall. This is a pattern and practice of the trump administration that needs to stop and it is a very hate to use a cliche but it is a very slippery slope because today it's the Iranian Americans. Tomorrow Morrogh who will it be if there was confusion in this situation at the border the point of passport to this non lawyer was supposed to be that there is no confusion this document identifies you as a US citizen who supposed to have speedy entry zone. I WANNA put this question from Dorset to you because this is a good question by email. Is it true that the Patriot Act now known as the USA Freedom Act would allow a US citizen to be detained or questioned etcetera. You know at this point in terms terms of port of entry. I I would have to go back. I'm not sure At that at this point David you're the lawyer in the room. We just have a second but is that the case that the they can detain Tena. US citizen upon reasonable suspicion of crime. But that's not what was going on in Blaine Washington and they wouldn't be detained To to refuse them admission into the United States that would be detained on probable cause of criminal activity. That's a completely different issue. And that's not what we're talking about today. We're talking about the the the detention of United States citizens simply coming home because they worry Iranians who were not suspected of any crime anywhere in the world that's shocking and it should always be shocking compete. David Leopold his former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Practicing Immigration Attorney with Leopold cold and associates. David thanks for your expertise assure. Actually the firm ULMER burn burn. Pardon me while you got your plug there. It is thank you David. We appreciate it. uh-huh on Connor Young's is homeland security correspondent for the New York Times though on. Thanks for being here. Thank you Sarah. You'll hang in with us. We're GONNA take a quick break. The reported detention of Iranian Americans Akins at the border is just the latest in a very long history of instances of profiling and discrimination. US Surani relations have been strained for more than forty years. We're going to get a perspective on the history and on Iranian Americans today with this message comes from. NPR sponsor are better help a truly affordable online counselling service. Fill out a questionnaire online and get matched with a licensed counselor best suited to your mental health needs whether it's depression anxiety or trauma better help will help you. Overcome what stands in the way of your happiness learn more at better help DOT COM and get ten in percent off your first month with Promo Code One way better help get help anytime anywhere. NPR's life kit wants to help you make changes that actually fleet stick this New Year for how to do dry January to how to start a creative habit. We've got new episodes almost to help you start the year off right. The episodes every Tuesday and Thursday. Listen and subscribe to life Kit. Welcome back to one. I'm todd's Willett. I want to add another another voice to our conversation now on Iranian Americans amidst the confrontation between the United States and Iran. Yoga tour body is Iranian American journalist. Who has is covered Iran for Reuters? She currently works as a reporter for PROPUBLICA covering immigration policy. You're gonNA thanks so much for being here. Thanks for having great to have you. Let's talk a little little bit about the history of US Iran relations. You've been reporting on this for years. We could go all the way back to nineteen fifty three in the. US backed coup. That installed the Shah Let's let's stipulate that I don't know that we wanna go back quite that far where for you is. The is the the start point of modern bad tensions between Iran and the United States. I think it really starts with the nineteen seventy nine revolution the the Islamic Republic That came to power or in that revolution has its one of its central tenets opposition to US foreign policy in the Middle East and globally That was I told the Khomeini's message from the beginning and it's certainly present in Iran's policies today now do you buy the analysis. A lot of people think yes they agree. Certainly nineteen seventy nine thousand nine hundred and the hostage crisis was awful awful the ending of diplomatic relations and the rest of it to say the least but the two thousand to January President George W Bush after nine eleven making the axis of evil speech taking essentially Sunni attack on the United States through Al Qaeda on nine eleven and lumping in Iran with the axis of evil many analysts have said that at that point you might not have seen it but relations were actually warming or at least getting a tepid is aside for instead of ice cold and access of evil really send things back in the other direction. I think that's a little bit of a simplistic implicit analysis As far as I'm concerned I think that there are definitely signs that at that point Iran was considering possibly some tactical cooperation and was undertaking taking some of that tactical cooperation with the United States. But the idea that But for that speech and but for those specific words Iran would have undertaken some major strategic Detente with the United States. I find that a little bit hard to believe and not really supported by the evidence I think again enmity with the United States. It's has been a core parts of the Islamic republic's identity and it's a question of whether it was. That was a wise speech for president From President George W Bush to make some what are you that it was not by by casting them as this this enemy and this sort of playing them up to be perhaps a bigger threat than they were and Painting them into a corner maybe that was an unwise thing to do but necessarily saying that bud for that speech the US in Iran would be friends. Stay would be cooperating in the Middle East. I think that's a bit too simplistic nineteen seventy-nine and the Islamic Revolution. The hostage crisis In Iran in Tehran. Your parents came to this country from Iran. Right around that time How were they treated when they came here? What two how did they feel about the United States in those early years or at that time? Oh I think they were both very grateful to be in the United States and they came my father came alone As a student study my mother came with her family You you know however that was a really tense time and you know my father has an accent. He has dark skin he definitely looks Middle Eastern And you know he's described to me some of the discrimination the nation that he and his friends faced being at that time in Oklahoma and actually both of them are still in Oklahoma It was a difficult time. I think Some of what. We're seeing right now with the reaction to house. EP is treating Iranians and post travel ban. All the things that are happening there. I think people have real legitimate flashbacks to Widespread discrimination against Iranians in the aftermath of the of the revolution and the hostage crisis when they felt out of place and and targeted because they came from a certain country. We mentioned the travel ban Just before the break and it's important because these latest reports of detentions thousands of US citizens or green card holders at the border isn't new. I mean you have to just look at the immediate antecedent which is twenty seventeen right. I mean I certainly certainly got some flashbacks. Not necessarily because the policy itself was exactly the same. I think what we saw when the travel ban happened was far more widespread and people being you know at risk serious risk of being sent back to Iran or sent back to the countries that they had come from or not being allowed to come here in the first place or other family members who were here not being able to visit or cut off. No one knowing what's going on that was really. It was the chaotic Feeling on social media on news just not knowing what the actual policy was that that was sort of the flashback And I think people are sensitive to the idea of being targeted for their national origin. Because that's what we're seeing has already happened. I mean Iranians and the citizens of several other Muslim-majority countries have been targeted basically solely because of their national national origin from entering this country that obviously has an extended to Iranian American citizens or Green Card holders. But there is some certainly this feeling among both Iranians and Iranian Americans that either they or their family members have been targeted simply because of their national except of the reports that we got from the border outside of Seattle with candidate that there may may have been indeed. US citizens passport-holders deceive. EP does not call it detained. Because there's a bureaucratic difference to keeping somebody in a room for ten hours. What I meant with a citizen comment was specifically with the travel? Of course right and I understand that I guess the reason I bring it up in that way is to is to get a sense of the impact on the community. Look whether you call all it detention whether it was seven hours or eight or two for. US citizens with an origin in another country to be treated differently at all. especially at a time. I'm of confrontation. I think it just goes back to a a feeling that many Iranian Americans have just for my own presence in the community and from speaking to my own family. Family that You know there are two countries have so much enmity and so much negative history between each other over the last forty years as an Iranian with American AIRCON citizenship. When you travel to Iran you are at risk there have been many detentions of American citizens in Iran within those people have very little recourse? And they're in a very difficult situation situation and then not exactly compare this to situations but there is a feeling that also now with these actions here with the travel ban you also are being questioned questioned for your Americanise while you're in the United States as well and so you know we. We don't have the same relationship with our motherland or with our home country on where many of us were born or parents were born that you know maybe a Mexican American would have or a Turkish American there's just much more tense And and Troubled environment and feeling sir. Parveen you've been reporting and interviewing Iranian Americans about the killing of Qasim Sulamani general role in in Baghdad what are some of the perspectives. That you've heard from the people you've talked to so running Americans. It was sort of a mix right. A A lot of people were shocked or alarmed and some of them were relieved. You know the the this man that had caused so many problems looms You know in the region was just suddenly gone At the same time some of those celebrations that they might have been having having internally were were tempered by the fact that so many Iranian Americans have family still Iran and the this latest esscalation between the United States in Iran might affect their family there in in some sort of negative way they could Up The risk of violence for them that it could make them targeted in some other way So on the one hand a lot of people were very happy but uh on the other they were still concerned that there would be negative side effects from this action. What about concerns in the immediate sense of escalation confrontation and and the possibility of war? So anyone that I talked to did not want to go to war with Iran Ron. I should I should say that first. Second a lot of people didn't think it would necessarily get there. The people who I spoke with my colleague spoke with believed that the violence that might come as retaliation would stay within the Middle East But just because it stays within the Middle East doesn't mean that it wouldn't be their problem because again their family members their friends live in the Middle East they live in Iran and so oh any kind of backlash in that manner would still affect their families in some sort of way we've been hearing from listeners including ANA who's a first generation Aronie in American who shared her insights. This is ANA from Orlando Florida. I'm a first generation. You Ronnie American and the first Iranian American elected to any public office in Florida Boorda serving as a state lawmaker for House district. Forty seven The situation with Iran is is is been really stressful. I family in Iran and and Of course love the United States and everything that we stand for and seeing these this this esscalation and lead to war It seems like a terrible terrible outcome for both of our countries and I I'm really hopeful that Congress Along with the trump administration were realized with relation. Makes no sense and that we wanna see Democratic Iran when you support the people of Iran above anything. Sarah you you hear. Time and again when we talk about the the enmity between these two countries that it doesn't really extend to the Iranian people and to a large extent. The American people Americans who travel to Tehran around the country say Iranians love US people on the streets they love Oh Americans they love you. It's it's the Islamic government And the the geopolitical positions of these two countries. That's really the problem of. Do you get that that vibe from the people you talk to as well. Do I get the vibe that the Iranians I spoke with have a problem with with American. No do you get the vibe that they're living in a space where the people of these two countries generally have no quarrel with one another but their their governments. Really really we do. Yeah absolutely of course you can find factions within any group that might not fall into that category but on the whole just you know my years of reporting in the Iranian American community being on in America Myself You know the diaspora finds itself now in a very familiar position which which is sort of straddling two worlds where you are on one hand concerned with a dramatic rise intentions in the Middle East And further destabilization within the region and then on the other hand you're concerned about friends and family in Iran and so that sort of being tugged in two different directions. Nations is a very familiar feeling. YOU'RE GONNA. What's your perspective on on this question? Of of the t the two people and this conspicuous lack of enmity. There are millions of Americans who have a bad opinion of Iran. Frankly I'm not sure that that many Americans quite know why if they have a negative feeling toward Iranian Iranian people not the government. That's obvious but what about your perspective on the the tens of hundreds of millions of people who were behind all this escalation I think that ah it's one of the biggest cliches when people go visit Iran they're always sort of They come back a few sieve about the hospitality of Iranians You know there's a there's large Interest in inside Iran in American culture and American pop culture. They've they follow the news. They follow things here I think it's it's it's always the case case that it's just a much more complicated picture when you actually talk to individual people then when you're taking government officials statements I think there is It's just a much more nuanced portrait of these two countries and the people that make each country than we often get just from watching the news and listening to government officials. So you're talking about the travel ban going back to twenty seventeen. We even went back to two thousand into at this part of this discussion with with access of evil regardless of where the tensions had their worst point This is one of the worst points. what are some of the concerns within the community about what they might be looking forward to. Things can certainly get worse I don't know how concerned Iranian Americans are about their position in this country. If things do go worse I think that The travel ban showed that the this administration is willing to take pretty drastic immigration action without really Having a a a big justification for us I think the justifications that have come out of to Sort of a national security basis justify the travel ban have been pretty scattered and Post Hawk rather than really thought through and so I think there is a real concern that if there were to be some sort of military action action that would translate into a reduction of civil liberties and a reduction of privileges and rights for Certainly Iranians Iranians on visas visas. And then I think there is a legitimate concern that that could translate transcend into running Americans as well citizens as well Sarah. Are you hearing that as well in your reporting and the people that you talk walk to the that further escalation of could mean a clampdown or in erasure of civil rights civil liberties for for some people. There's certainly a concern especially after what happened. You know just on Saturday where Iranian Americans. US citizens were being pulled in for some secondary questioning for several hours. You know the there was a sense of surprise it. Something like that happened so quickly After the assassination Russian and therefore sense that you know people don't know what's GONNA come next I. I should say though that from a lot of people that I have spoken with and it doesn't necessarily -sarily always make it into articles unfortunately because we have space issues But you know people are very concerned about Iranians in Iran. And what this could mean for them if there's further escalation if you're on retaliates and the US retaliates and they just keep going back and forth north There is a sense that you know you know. Iranian Americans are the ones who hold the US passports and therefore are afforded a lot more rights And an almost a sense of guilt among some people that they at the end of the day feel even if they're held up a little bit or bothered in some way They still have more agency and more rights than their counterparts. Clooney Ron Confusion and concern among Iranian Americans Iranians hold green cards and visas for this country and their loved ones and their relatives. Sarah Parveen Reporter L. A. Times Sarah. Thank you for joining and for your reporting thank you. You'RE GONNA tour body is a reporter for PROPUBLICA. You're gonNA thank you so much for your reporting. Thank you for being here. Thanks for having. This conversation was produced by Statium Brown and edited by Matthew Simonsen soon to learn more about them and the rest of the team. visit the one eight dot org. You can hear Mary. Louise Kelly's interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on all things considered so be sure to check your local stations for that. This program comes from W. Amu part of American University in Washington it's distributed by NPR until we meet again. I'm todd's will lick thank you so much for listening. This is one.

Coming up next