Executive order strands Mason woman's family in Iran

Posted at 11:47 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 10:43:57-05

MASON, Ohio -- One pen-stroke turned two years of Nakisa Azari’s hard work to dust.

When Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Mason woman’s Iranian parents were preparing for a flight to Columbus. Her mother, a retired nurse, and her father, a math teacher, had obtained legal immigrant visas that would allow them to begin a new chapter of their lives in the United States.

The plan, Azari said, was that they would help care for her two children while she pursued a degree in visual arts education at the University of Cincinnati.

Like grandparents all over the world, they were excited to see their grandchildren in person, Azari said. They had picked out toys for 6-year-old Aadel and 3-year-old Mona; they knew that President Donald Trump planned to enact more restrictive immigration policies during his first term, but hoped they would make it into the country before new legislation could pass.

They were only a day late.

"It’s unexpected," Azari said Monday night. "I am very shocked, and even after a weekend, I am still shocked ... Everything, after this long process, just destroyed in one night is unbelievable."

The "long process" cost more than time: Azari and her family estimated they had spent about $2,000 to secure her parents’ visas. Now, their future -- and Azari’s -- is uncertain. If her parents are not able to come to the United States, she will not be able to begin her studies at UC in the fall.

And her children will not be able to see their grandparents in person.

“It’s so bad Trump doesn’t like my grandma and grandpa come to Mason," Aadel wrote on a drawing he made over the weekend. “That’s why I am so, so mad."

Rallies over the weekend helped Azari feel less alone, she said, but they did not bring her family any closer. She and her husband, electrician Saeid Amel, now stand challenged to find some way to help her parents reach the United States before their visas expire Feb. 19.

"Thank you for thinking of Americans being safe, but this is not the way," she said, addressing Trump. "This is not the way to make America great."