Niki Mossafer Rahmati took a short winter break from her studies at MIT by heading home to Tehran. But as USA Today reports, Rahmati's return trip was dashed by President Trump's executive order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Her Facebook post documents her scramble once news of the impending order broke, moving up her return travel to the US to beat the order. It was executed, however, while Rahmati—who has a valid multiple-entry student visa—was on the first leg home, stranding her in Doha, Qatar, with about 30 other Iranians hoping to get to the US. "All these people had gotten visas legally and had gone through background checks," she wrote, describing the "old couples," women trying to visit their pregnant daughters, students, and families hoping to start new lives. "Do any of the people sound like illegal immigrants?" She added, "This will not secure the borders from terrorism and illegal immigrants. It will only increase racism in the American society."
Stories of others stranded by the mandate:
- An Iraqi dad, his wife, and their three kids—all with valid visas and headed to Nashville, Tenn.—were stopped in Cairo and sent back to Iraq, where the Kurdish family no longer has jobs or a home, USA Today reports. "I did not know the president can sign such orders," said Fuad Sharef Suleman. "Because it looks like those autocratic leaders in corrupt countries, not in a democratic modern country like America."
- WLOS relays the story of an Iranian Clemson University PhD grad similarly denied entry. Nazanin Zinouri, who's lived in the US for seven years with a valid multiple-entry visa, earned her doctorate in industrial engineering and now works for computer software company Modjoul. Two days after her arrival in Tehran on vacation, she heard about the executive order. "No one warned me when I was leaving from Atlanta airport for Tehran," she wrote. "No one told me what to do with my life in the United States." She hopes she can get back to "my home, my dog, my car, my career, and my friends."
- "My first reaction was: But I have a valid visa," Samira Asgari said in recalling her attempt Saturday to board a flight to Boston in Frankfurt, Germany, per Vox. The 30-year-old Iranian was moving from Switzerland to the US for a post-doctoral genomics fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Now she's unsure what her next move will be, as she and her boyfriend both quit their jobs and no longer have a place to live in Lausanne. "America always seemed like a land of opportunity, that if you're willing to be a part of this community, it [reciprocates]," she said. "That has changed."
- A 12-year-old girl is stranded in Djibouti with her US citizen father, but because he can't afford to stay there much longer, he may have to send her back to war-torn Yemen, ProPublica reports. Eman Ali's mom is also a US citizen, but complex residency rules mean the girl is not automatically a US citizen herself, as she was born in Yemen and her mother lived most of her life there. She's been living with her grandparents in Yemen while her US visa was being processed (it was issued by the US Embassy on Wednesday). The irony, per the family's lawyer, is that "as soon as [Eman] entered the United States, she would be a lawful permanent resident and eligible for U.S. citizenship immediately."
- A Brooklyn doctor is now stranded in Sudan, another ProPublica story reports. Dr. Kamal Fadlalla was visiting family in Wad Madani, and though he tried to get back to the US on Saturday, his boarding pass was confiscated and his flight canceled. "It was really shocking for me," he tells ProPublica, which documents the plight of other doctors affected.