Nashville Immigrants Outraged Over Immigration Ban

Posted at 10:09 PM, Jan 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-28 23:18:22-05

The recently signed executive action to temporarily ban immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days has sparked widespread outrage

President Donald Trump signed the executive order on Friday which also suspended refugees from entering the country for 120 days. 

The decision caused major confusion and panic among immigrants flying into major international airports who were held for hours while their loved ones waited. A federal judge issued a stay that temporarily halted the immigration ban and sending immigrants and refugees out of the country. 

"Shocking, really shocking. We all are victims of politics, and we haven't done anything wrong in our whole life," Azadeh Najafian, an immigrant from Iran, told NewsChannel 5. 

Najafian and her husband Mohammad Meerzaei moved to Nashville almost two years ago with a student visa so he can study religion at Vanderbilt University. 

She traveled to Shariz, Iran on Tuesday to complete her PhD program for four months, but came back on Friday in fear of not being able to return in a timely fashion. 

She was there for less than 24 hours before her husband bought a ticket in anticipation of President Trump signing the executive action. 

"I called her Mom and told her she needs to come back. I really can't make sense of the situation," Meerzaei said. 

The Nashville International Center for Empowerment has remained busy since the news broke out. Adult Education Coordinator Ashley Coleman said some of the organization's refugee clients have loved ones overseas with fears on being able to return. 

"All we can really do is try to mitigate those emotional ramifications of this as best as we can," Coleman said. "We are very conscious not to instill a sense of fear because they feel that's what this administration is doing."

Coleman admitted the group was ready for the executive action although it was surprising on how quickly it was enacted. The organization has been working with a separate legal counsel group whose attorneys specialize in immigration law. 

NICE has served 15,000 refugees and immigrants since 2005 and has planned to further address the details of the executive order in its adult education program. 

Meanwhile, immigrants like Najafian have been asking people to not judge and look beyond politics.

"Think about them [refugees/immigrants] as real human beings and not stereotypes."