Iranian Researcher Barred from Flying to US for New Job

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

Samira Asgari spent months planning her move from Switzerland to the United States. The 30-year-old Iranian woman had secured a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She’d won a prestigious award for her research in genomics that would even pay her salary at her new, American lab.

“I was really happy, and it felt like everything was going right,” she said.

Everything changed, however, when Asgari flew from Geneva to Frankfurt and attempted to board her second flight to Boston.

“A gentleman stopped me from boarding the plane,” she said. “He told me he was a consulate of the American government in Frankfurt and not allowing anybody with a number of nationalities to board planes to the United States. They had already unloaded my luggage and everything.”

Asgari was confused. “My first reaction was: but I have a valid visa.” Despite this, she was told she would not be allowed entry into the US under President Trump’s new executive order, which currently bars residents of seven majority-Muslim countries from entry.


President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order (EO) proposing a 90-day suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. The unrealistic conditions required for discontinuing the suspension make it very likely that this EO will turn into a permanent ban. We, the undersigned academics and researchers from a variety of fields of study, backgrounds, and personal convictions, would like to voice our concern and strongly oppose this measure on three grounds:

1. This Executive Order is discriminatory. The EO unfairly targets a large group of immigrants and non-immigrants on the basis of their countries of origin, all of which are nations with a majority Muslim population. This is a major step towards implementing the stringent racial and religious profiling promised on the campaign trail. The United States is a democratic nation, and ethnic and religious profiling are in stark contrast to the values and principles we hold.