January 03, 2017
After a four-week visit to their native Iran—to show off their 6-month-old son to relatives—an Illinois couple returned home only to be detained. Hessameddin Noorian, his wife, Zahra Amirisefat, and their son Ryan were among 18 people detained Saturday at O’Hare International Airport, a result of President Trump’s executive order.
Noorian, 36, a math tutor at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois, said he was held for five hours, after a 20-hour flight. He read about the travel ban while in Tehran, but didn’t think it would go into effect so quickly or that it would affect his family. His wife and child are US citizens; Noorian is a British national and a US green card holder.
“This home,” he said Monday from the school’s learning center, “it seems somebody wants to make it into a prison.”
In a room packed with other detainees, an immigration officer interviewed Noorian for 40 minutes, checking every piece of paper in his bag, while asking personal and political questions.
Noorian said the officer told him if he were entering the country for the first time after being granted a green card, he would have been deported immediately. That Noorian had been employed at Oakton for about a year likely saved him from deportation, he
At one point, the officer told Noorian that his wife and son were free to leave, but that he had to stay. Zahra, also a tutor at Oakton, refused to leave her husband’s side.
The biggest humiliation, Noorian said, was that Zahra could not nurse their child in a private room.
“She asked for a room but they said, ‘There is no room without a camera here. You can use the bathroom,’” Noorian said. “She decided to feed the baby somewhere in the corner.”
The immigration officer’s parting advice to Noorian was “not to leave the country for a while.”
When Noorian’s family was released, other detainees asked him to call their relatives and let them know they were OK. He called every number he was given.
And once outside, he saw the protesters.
One of them yelled, “Welcome home!”
That, Noorian said, was reassuring.
“This is a positive side of this story,” he said. “How much people care about what’s happening.”