Washington, DC – NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement in response to proposals from former Donald Trump Iran Envoy Elliot Abrams and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to ban U.S. travel to Iran:
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“Nobody knows of the Iranian government’s brutal repression and the risks of traveling to Iran better than Iranian Americans. But most Iranian Americans have family in Iran and a significant number choose to visit Iran, and this must remain their choice.
“We are deeply concerned that Senator Menendez says he is considering a ban to prevent U.S. travel to Iran. NIAC is warning the Biden Administration of the harms of such a proposal and urging Menendez and other lawmakers against legislation to enact it.
“That this proposal was first suggested by Elliot Abrams, a man convicted for lying about Reagan illegally sending weapons to Iran, should be a big red flag for policymakers. Now, he wants to throw Americans in jail for simply visiting Iran. No government, whether Iranian or American, should threaten jail time to prevent the Iranian-American community from being able to travel and see our loved ones.
“The impact of Trump’s Muslim Ban and refugee ban remains in place to this day even after Biden nullified it. Issuances of visas and refugee status for Iranians remain at a fraction of what they were before the ban. The toll of a ban on travel by Americans to Iran, matched with the prospect of a future Republican administration banning travel by Iranians to America would be unconscionable and intolerable.
“We unconditionally condemn Iran’s wrongful detention of Iranian Americans, as well as its detention of prisoners of conscience. Isolating populations and building walls against people is not the solution and only increases tensions and codifies enmity. We need policymakers to take a more serious approach to these issues to address the underlying challenges rather than proposing ‘quick fixes’ that only make the situation worse.”