‘I am still hopeful’
Iranian researcher, others head to U.S. as travel ban eases
Iranian bioengineer Nima Enayati saw for himself what a difference a few days can make.
Enayati was prevented from boarding a Turkish Airlines flight to the United States on Monday after President Donald Trump’s travel ban against seven Muslim nations took effect. The move threw into disarray his plans to conduct research at Stanford University’s CHARMLAB on robotic surgery, part of his PhD. studies at Milan’s Polytechnic University.
On Saturday, as soon as he heard that a court had blocked Trump’s travel ban, Enayati started calling every airline he could, looking for the quickest, most direct flight to anywhere in the United States.
A day later, just hours after a U.S. appeals court blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to re-impose the travel ban, the 29-year-old checked in Sunday for an Emirates Airline flight direct from Milan’s Malpensa airport to New York’s JFK.
Enayati said the check-in went smoothly, despite all the uncertainty of the last week.
“The lady at the check-in desk wasn’t sure, because the rules are changing so quickly. She just asked for confirmation,” Enayati said. “She just actually told me she personally would be scared to go to the United States now.”
But Enayati doesn’t share her trepidation.
“What is the worst case thing that can happen? I just come back” to Italy, he said.
Enayati is reasonably confident he will get into the U.S. this time — despite the government’s flip-flop on visa requirements — because he read that the Trump administration won’t make its next move to reinstate the ban until at least today.
“I am going to get there Sunday, so I am still hopeful,” he said.
Enayati falls into the highly talented category of researchers and immigrants seeking entry into the United States. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in Tehran and has a master’s degree from Milan Polytechnic, where he is working on his PhD. Still, he has contacts for legal help in the United States if he needs it.
Since this is his first trip to the United States, he plans to spend a couple days in New York before going on to San Francisco.
“I may as well stop there. I figure it may be the last time there for a couple of years,” he said.
Advocates in the U.S. are telling people to get on the earliest flights they can find after the week-old travel ban against those from seven Muslim countries was blocked Friday by U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco denied Trump’s effort to immediately reinstate the ban early Sunday. For now, it remains blocked by a judge’s temporary restraining order, and federal officials have told their staffs to comply.
“We’re telling them to get on the quickest flight ASAP,” said Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Mich. Her group has sued in federal court in Detroit, challenging Trump’s executive order as unconstitutional.
At Cairo Airport on Sunday, officials said a total of 33 U.S.bound migrants from Yemen, Syria and Iraq boarded flights on their way to the United States.
The officials said the 33 had not previously been turned back but were migrants rushing to take advantage of the window offered by the court ruling.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Iranian-born bioengineer researcher Nima Enayati talks on his phone at Milan’s Malpensa international airport in Busto Arsizio, Italy. Just hours after an appeals court blocked an attempt to re-impose the travel ban, Enayati checked in on an Emirates Airline flight direct from Milan’s Malpensa airport to New York’s JFK on Sunday afternoon.