BOSTON (CBS) — As debates over President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions rage on, people affected by the ban who cannot get into the country worry for their future.
With his name already on the door of his work space at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, PhD scientist and newly-accepted Harvard University fellow Seyed Soheil Saeedi Saravi should be starting his potentially groundbreaking research on heart disease in a few weeks.
But the Iranian immigrant’s dream of working in this science lab was abruptly halted after President Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Senior Cardiologist and Harvard University professor Dr. Thomas Michel said he’s “shocked, surprised, saddened” by the turn of events.
“He’s one of the outstanding students in his era in all of Iran,” Dr. Michel said.
Michel chose Saravi as one of his six to eight scientists to work under him for the next two years.
“If you look at contributions of immigrants, the life of this country, looking at arts of science or technology, they’ve been a part of what makes America great,” said Dr. Michel.
The Iranian scientist agrees. In an email sent to the Boston Globe, he said, “Many Iranians are successful persons in the field of science. We are peaceful people. We learn, research, work for development of our country and help to improve the public health of global populations. . . . I am so sorry for this decision.”
Harvard University Researcher Andrea Sorrentino feels Saravi’s pain. He’s also an immigrant, but he’s not affected by the ban because he’s from Italy.
“It’s a bad situation, and I’m sad for him,” Sorrentino said. “I hope that we are going to solve this problem soon.”
Dr. Michel said that, since there’s no U.S. embassy in Iran, Saravi travels daily to the U.S. embassy in Dubai to meet with officials there to hopefully lift the ban on his visa.
Scientists are planning a nationwide march against the travel ban, called the “March for Science.” It will be led in Washington, D.C., with a tentative date set for March 4 and a large turnout expected in Boston.