Saskatchewan

'We left with the hope of not facing those problems again': Iranian student on travel ban

Ata Merat joined CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition to discuss the effect the U.S. immigration ban has had on his family living in the U.S. and abroad.

Ata Merat's brother has been living in the U.S. for last 6 years

Merat said his father had been planning to visit his brother in the States for Persian new year in March. Now, that visit is unable to go forward due to a ban on travel from certain countries issued by the Trump administration. (CBC Saskatoon)

Ata Merat doesn't know if or when he or his father will be able to visit his brother who is currently living and working in the United States. 

Merat is an Iranian-born student who is currently studying electrical engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. His brother attained a Masters in Mechanical Engineering in the States, where he has been living for the last six years, Merat said. 

In the wake of strict limits on immigrants from certain countries into the U.S. by the Trump administration, Merat said friends reached out to him and expressed sympathy for the troubles it had lain upon his family.

"Some of us, we left Iran for social issues as well, political issues," Merat said. "We left with the hope of not facing those problems again."

Merat said friends condemned the ban as discriminatory. He said he has heard rumblings of disappointment at the U of S campus from students who are citizens of the affected countries — students who were looking at the prospect of research programs in the United States. 

Merat has thought about moving to the U.S. to look for work but the ban has him reconsidering. In Canada, the jobs he has seen require him to travel to the U.S., which has limited the scope of what he can apply for. 

"It is always a fear in you going there, that you don't know what's going to happen," Merat said of travelling to the U.S.

Merat said he hasn't seen his brother in two years. His father was planning to visit the U.S. in March for the Persian new year and now isn't able to do that, Merat said. 

"Still having that label on you, that you are from Iran, they compare you to the [Iranian] government," Merat said. "It is very hard for us."

"It is very sad that we always get targeted by politicians."

With files from CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition

now