Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans .

Congressman Introduces Legislation to Expel Iranian Visitors and Students from the U.S.



Friday, September 26, 2003

Washington, D.C. September 26, 2003 – Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-SC) has introduced a bill that would stop individuals from nations determined by the US State Department to be state sponsors of terrorism from entering the United States. Cuba, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Sudan have been designated as terrorist states.

The legislation, entitled the Stop Terrorists Entry Program (STEP) Act of 2003 (HR 3075), would forbid all Iranian Americans from filing immigrant family petitions and prohibit all Iranians from visiting, studying or working in America as non-immigrants. The STEP Act would also require current non-immigrant visitors and students from nations designated as terrorist states to leave the United States within 60 days. The act would exempt applicants for political or religious asylum from being required to leave, and would allow individuals seeking medical treatment to enter the United States.

Congressman Barrett believes that the STEP Act would help local law enforcement by removing people from the United States whom he thinks are dangerous. He said that he is not concerned his bill might upset current residents “from those countries," and that specific methods for removing immigrants would have to be planned if the act passed.

IAPAC strongly favors taking appropriate and necessary measures to protect the national security of the United States. However, we are very dismayed that a member of the U.S. Congress would introduce legislation that would effectively ban the issuance of all immigrant or non-immigrant visas to Iranian nationals. No Iranians were involved in the tragic events of September 11th. In fact, many Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran in a show of support for the United States, and against the goals and concept of terrorism. Legislation such as the STEP Act not only unfairly targets the Iranian people as a group, but also imposes an unfair and unreasonable burden on Americans of Iranian descent.

Although the STEP Act only has three co-sponsors at the present time, and is unlikely to be brought before the House of Representatives for a vote, the bill may pick up some support within the next few weeks. Co-sponsors include, Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO). The act is currently under consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. IAPAC strongly urges all people who care about the basic values of tolerance and fair-mindedness that America exemplifies to vigorously oppose the STEP Act.

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