‘Will He Board the Plane? I Am Freaking Out!’

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

We posted a note earlier from an Iranian American woman who worries that her sick grandmother and other family and friends back in Iran won’t be able to come to the U.S. A few more readers followed up with similar worries regarding loved ones in Iran—one of the seven countries affected by Trump’s travel ban:

My husband left for Iran on Thursday (the day before the ban was signed) to visit his sister who had a heart attack! He is supposed to come back in February. He has a Green Card and has been in the U.S. since 1994. We own a business here in Virginia, with several contracts that are due by end of February. What can I say to our clients? How am I suppose to earn any money to keep our mortgage and bills paid without my husband?  I am still not clear if Green Card holders can board the plane to U.S. or not. We live five minutes away from the Dulles airport. He has no problem answering any questions by customs agents, but will they let him board the plane in Munich? I am freaking out!

I have lived in the States since I was 7, which makes it 40 years now, and I have never been so sad with what is happening here. What is happening? I’m so confused and disappointed.

The Trump White House initially barred Green Card holders, but no longer. The reader’s confusion is understandable, however, given the rushed, uncoordinated, and imprecise language of the executive order—and what might come next.

This next reader also has family ties with Iran:

Long story short, my son was born and raised in the U.S., as was I (my family were Polish immigrants at the turn of the 20th century). He has become a successful writer and professor, after receiving his doctorate degree from Columbia at the age of 24. He fell in love with a wonderful Iranian woman several years ago. She is such an intelligent, beautiful woman working as a pediatric nurse anesthetist and hoping to get into the medical field here in the U.S.

They have been waiting for her visa since applying in 2015. They were married in Georgia (the country), and they were expecting to be together soon. Unfortunately, that process has been stopped due to the ban on Iranians. Even if you marry a U.S. citizen, you have to get a visa first before entering the country.

My heart is broken for them. We are all devastated. I really am at a loss for the right words to describe what we have gone through this past week … such sadness.