Dr. Seyed Shahram Iranbomy’s 20-year-old son Irman, a college student living in Falls Church, Va., died in a car accident in Washington, D.C. on June 10.
Dr. Iranbomy intended to make the 4,000-mile journey from his Frankfurt, Germany home to say good-bye to his son.
There was just one problem: the American Consulate in Frankfurt denied Dr. Iranbomy a visa.
His humanitarian appeal to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) went unanswered until two weeks after Irman’s funeral was scheduled to commence, and even then it failed to provide a reason for its decision.
According to a form Iranbomy says a U.S. consulate official provided, Iranbomy was denied a nonimmigrant visa because the Immigration and Nationality Act “prohibits issuing a visa to any person who seeks or has sought to procure a visa, other documentation, admission into the United States, or immigration benefit by fraud or by willfully misrepresenting a material fact.”
Iranbomy quoted the US consulate as saying:
“You’re using the death of your son to immigrate to America; you’re not telling the truth.”
Dr. Iranbomy is a human rights and discrimination attorney, and has been living in Germany for 40 years.
He is a German citizen who was told he lacks German roots since he is an Iranian immigrant.
He stated to DW, a German news and current events website:
“I am more German than Iranian.”
His visa refused, Iranbomy applied for a special travel document that would allow “parole into the U.S. for humanitarian reasons.”
Hoping this would grant permission to attend his son’s funeral, Dr. Iranbomy’s ex-wife and 18-year-old daughter delayed the funeral.
Even a European Commission lawyer got involved, addressing an inquiry to a European Parliament member.
“My constituent states that he has significant ties to Germany that evidence a return as he is a practicing lawyer. I therefore respectfully request you give every possible consideration for a favorable decision as allowed under all applicable laws and regulations.”
Unable to wait any longer, the funeral proceeded on June 27.
Dr. Iranbomy was never able to attend.
On July 3, he received an email from John Bird, chief of the USCIS humanitarian affairs branch, denying his new application sans explanation.
A State Department spokesperson stated visa records are confidential.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) did not return The Washington Post’s request for comment.
Ironically, while Dr. Iranbomy may be denied entry to the United States because of his Iranian heritage, he is included on an American Consulate list of English-speaking lawyers available to assist in immigration cases in the federal state of Hesse.
That list boasts Iranbomy’s qualifications of speaking fluent German, Farsi, “Good” English, and his Ph.D. in international relations.
So the State Dept. must feel he passed its test.
In fact, under former President Obama’s administration, Iranbomy received a 10-year business and leisure travel visa.
It was revoked in May 2017.
Trita Parsi, adjunct professor at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, and the founder and former president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said Iranbomy’s case is just another in a succession targeting the Iranian government and ordinary Iranians.
“I don’t think this kind of personal tragedy should be surprising, given that the maximum pressure strategy that Trump is pursuing doesn’t have a lot of exceptions. It started with the Muslim ban, which disproportionately affected Iranians. There’s a degree of cruelty that seems to be the point.”
This isn’t about the United States from preventing an Iranian from trying to enter due to possible security issues or diplomatic bureaucracy.
Dr. Seyed Shahram Iranbomy is a German citizen with impeccable credentials.
His exclusion from coming to America to attend his son’s funeral is nothing but naked Islamaphobia, using Donald Trump’s re-election strategy of fanning the flames of armed conflict with Iran as a convenient device.
Image credit: events.agbc.de