Dr. Nazanin Zinouri recently found herself in the media spotlight after being caught in the middle of a political tug of war. After departing the US on Jan. 20 for a planned visit with family in Tehran, Iran, Zinouri found herself out of the country as President Trump implemented an executive order on Jan. 27. The order banned entry of the US for refugees and nationals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
Zinouri, an Iranian citizen with a US work visa, earned her industrial engineering Ph.D. at Clemson University and now works and lives in upstate South Carolina. She was aware of rumors of the pending executive order as she left the US, and as soon as she learned the order was initiated, she scrambled to get back home as soon as possible. She successfully left Iran on a flight to Dubai, but was prevented from boarding the connecting flight to the US by overseas-based TSA agents. She spent several days in Dubai in limbo wondering whether she would ever be able to return to her home, her job, and her beloved dog, Dexter.
Zinouri’s harrowing experience was shared by news outlets around the country in conjunction with with her posts on Facebook. Her experience helped humanize the implications of the executive order. Clemson IE provided updates on Zinouri’s situation as they became available and helped support her cause by sharing her GoFundMe page. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham came to Clemson on Zinouri’s behalf and described her as someone caught in the midst of a loosely interpreted policy that wrongly impacted the rights of legitimate work visa holders. Dr. Nazanin Zinouri was ultimately able to return to the US on Feb. 5 after a federal appeals court denied to uphold the travel ban.
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