January 17, 2003

La Prensa Persa

Editors Note: On January 3, 2003 we introduced the first biweekly column of La Prensa Persa (The Persian Press), an opportunity for members of the middle-eastern communities to communicate and talk about the many of the issues facing them, immigration law, civil and constitutional rights to name a few, which not only impact that community but also impact the Hispanic community.

Give US Back Our Sun!

On alliance of Iranian people in reaction to INS detention of legal residents

By Kathy Hadizadeh

The phone kept ringing.
Just kept looking at the phone.
Did not even bother to stop all those rings.

Calls came and asked: “Did you hide the sun?”
Answered: No.
Hung up and smiled.

Some people came to the door, shouting: “Where did you hide our sun?”
Held the ears.
Sat there and frowned.

Next day or so, came thousands of people.
All angry, all frustrated .
Did not even bother to ask.
Did not even knock on the door.
Opened the head and took away their sun.

Devuelvan nuestro sol?

En alianza de la gente Iraní en la reacción a la detención del INS de residentes legales

Kathy Hadizadeh

El teléfono siguió sonando.
Seguía mirando el teléfono.
Ni me molesté en detener todos los timbres.

Llamadas llegaron y preguntaron: “Escondiste nuestro sol?”
Contesté: No.
Colgué y sonreí.

Algunas personas vinieron a la puerta, gritando: “Donde escondiste nuestro sol?”
Tapé mis oidos.
Permanecí ahí y fruncí el ceño.

Al siguiente día, miles de personas vinieron.
Todos enojados, y frustados.
Ni se molestaron en preguntar.
Ni tan siquiera tocaron la puerta.
Abrieron la cabeza y se llevaron su sol.

Iranian-American community in the United States

Somewhat different, but so much alike!

The Iranian population in the US grew to121,000 in 1980 from 15,000 individuals in 1965. The 1990 census estimates were between 800,000 and 1,100,000. The marked increase in immigration was first due to the country’s wealth from oil revenues prior to the 1979 revolution, sending students abroad for higher education. By 1977, Iran had more students abroad than any other country in the world at 227,497. A second wave occurred after the 1979 revolution when many of these students opted to remain in the US and their relatives decided to join them. A majority of the immigrants in the recent years, prior to 9/11, were the younger generation who left the country because of its current situation. Eventually, everyone is becoming a permanent resident or naturalized US citizen once qualified.

Although coming from a non-English speaking country, according 1990 census figures, 84% of Iranian-Americans speak fluent English. 46% have a BS or higher degree that ranks them above the general public in terms of educational achievements. 43% of Iranians are in professional and managerial positions, 35% in technical and administrative, 10% are in various services and the balance are spread over farming, craft and laborers. 48% of the Iranian-American community is dual income earners, 22% own their own businesses, and 92% have a mortgage.

The dark hair and facial complex of many Iranians resemble those of Hispanics. Other than the appearance, there are more significant similarities between the Iranian-American and Hispanic communities. In recent months, they have been dealing with many of the same issues of immigration, racism, profiling; and the same civil, human, and constitutional rights issues. New immigration laws that target the middle eastern communities can and will be applicable to the Hispanic community, and many of them can lead to far worse consequences than prop-187 could.

A few new INS rules governing visitors and students are: prohibition on attending school prior to approval; reduction of minimum admission period for B-2 visitors from 6 months to 30 days; reduction of minimum admission period for all B non-immigrant visitors from one year to six months and reducing the maximum length of that extension; denying discretionary relief to persons with a final order of removal who fail to surrender for removal within 30 days of the final order; new requirements for change of status to student, etc. Needless to say, visa applications of people from Iran are denied for all practical purposes, tearing the Iranian-American families even further apart.

There are also new rules affecting all US citizens and diminishing their Fourth Amendment guarantees. Few such examples are sneak and peek searches, expanded wiretap authority, reduced privacy of student records, etc. It is unfortunate to see the citizenry being influenced with fear and gladly offering up its rights, resurrecting and hastening the Prop 187 era infringements into the rights of non-citizens. Secret Evidence rule is one such example. Another example is a 1996 immigration law that has reached the higher courts. It requires any non-US citizen who commits an aggravated felony must be deported. It further requires that so-called "criminal aliens" be held without bond pending their removal from the US. Such mandatory detention requirements don't afford an opportunity for an individualized hearing before a judge and violates constitutional protections against arbitrary imprisonment by the government.

There will be many such laws affecting the lives of the new immigrants and minority communities for the years to come.

Yes, we are somewhat different, but so much alike.

La Prensa Persa is complied by Ramin Moshiri, President of the Association of Iranian American Professionals (AIAP). He can be emailed at: [email protected]

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