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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

How Trump's travel ban separated this Seattle woman from her husband

Pamela and Afshin Raghebi relax together. The couple has been separated since Afshin left the US to seek permanent legal status and has not been permitted to return home.
Courtesy of Pamela Raghebi
Pamela and Afshin Raghebi in a family photo. The couple has been separated since Afshin left the U.S. to seek permanent legal status and has not been permitted to return home.

Seattle resident Pamela Raghebi is separated from her husband Afshin, who's orginally from Iran. After leaving the country in March to acquire legal status, Afshin has been unable to return to the United States.

The Supreme Court ruling upholding President Trump's travel ban means that Afshin may not be able to return home.

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "Interview Highlights", "style": "wide"}]]How did Afshin end up coming to the United States in the first place? 

It was a long journey. Twenty-two years ago, he realized that it was no longer safe for him to be in Tehran.

He had been working for the South Korean embassy as a chauffeur, and the Iranian police brought him in and beat him up. They told him that he would have to give them all of the information that he overheard in the car — anything that the minister was doing.

Afshin went to his boss and told him what they had said, and they arranged a visa to get Afshin out of the country. They knew what would be next – that he would be killed or put in jail.

In order to pursue permanent legal status in the United States, Afshin traveled to the United Arab Emirates in March to complete the steps to obtain a visa. What’s happened since?

After his interview, which was much longer than we anticipated, he was told that he had been temporarily rejected. He was told that there would be an automatic review in three months. So the 90 days passed, and we were still getting the same response every time he would call.

No specific reason was offered. We assumed that it was because of the travel ban, that since he’s from Iran, nothing that we did would change this. He’s from a country that’s on the top of the list.

When you heard about the Supreme Court ruling today that upholds the travel ban, what did you think?

The present administration is not indicative of most American people. We are setting up an "us versus them" scenario in this country, which is very scary. And we’ve seen that in the past. We’ve seen that when one party or group of people wants to push their agenda, they make somebody else the boogeyman. And this is wrong. It’s just wrong.

The Supreme Court decision wasn’t a surprise. I was furious. Hurt. Disappointed. Angry. But not defeated. You don’t give up.

I can’t imagine life without my husband. Afshin is such a good soul. And he needs me as much as I need him.

What would you say to people who may not have a problem with this ban?

You don’t know the thousands of people who have left Iran because they don’t agree with their administration – or those who have left any other country because they’re afraid. America stands in their minds, and in the minds of millions of others, as a shining example of a democracy. 

The American Dream, which we take for granted, means that many other people see this as the promised land, because we had, for so many years, a government that upheld that vision.

Unfortunately, that’s not what we have right now.

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