The impeding Civil Predicaments of the Persian/Iranian-Americans
To U.S. Federal Government: Not On Your Watch, as the Buck Stops There!
To Iranian-Americans: Stand up and be Counted, or Continue to hide and be Mistreated!
As we are once again overwhelmed with the barrage of political campaign when the prospective all of a sudden remember there are constituencies to whom they direly depend on for votes, it is fitting to present another perspective on certain government xenophobic discriminatory practices and profiling that have by and large remained uncovered in the "mainstream" media. An earlier article Looking Middle Eastern? You are the Prime Suspect appeared almost two years, where this author numerated specific violations of civil and constitutional rights of the Americans of Iranian heritage. There is also a rather elaborative interview with a renowned Iranian-American, Professor Rahni, which is well worth reading to better understand the challenges faced by this community in the U.S. The current article substantiates the fact that the problem has only exacerbated whereby such good citizens are only deemed as the collateral damage in the so called war against terrorism, a self-perpetuating enterprise that is fast approaching several hundred billion dollars a year, and our government is the perpetrating accomplice.
I, still with a dim glimpse of hope, submitted this open letter to every organ of our government, from the White House, to senate and the house leadership and various government departments, including the Office of Attorney General. My dire hope was that perhaps a miraculously impartial investigation will lead to refining our laws (e.g., Patriot Act et al) and the government policies in order to safeguard every citizen's legal rights and due process. What a devastating hoax of hope it has become as none even bothered sending back an acknowledgment. The only viable option at this point, is to go into collations with other progressive citizen groups to elect the right candidate to the highest office of the land for January 2009.
Along with millions of Americans of Middle Eastern ancestry, the Iranian-Americans feel particularly singled out and inflicted with the enduring and agonizing deterioration of their civil and constitutional rights that have only been exacerbated after September 11 when the U.S. was despicably attacked by a group of fanatical terrorists from abroad. I tend to mainly focus herein on the particular plights of nearly one million law abiding Americans of Iranian/Persian heritage with an annual contribution to the American economy approaching hundreds of billions of dollars and with educational achievements that is twice at minimum, the national average. I challenge anyone who could find a college or the university in the U.S. where Iranian-American professors are not eminently present in droves. Our personal and professional aspirations have been curtailed immeasurably at the expense of our dignity; the same also applies to well over ten million Americans whose ancestry spans from south India, to central Asia and across to North Africa through the so called Middle East (ME). Unless these patriotic Americans form a political collation of voting bloc they will never be truly recognized in the American political process.
Specifically, I am focusing on my own family's specific case ordeals as echoed by the thousands in the dire hope that with your effective leadership through the various Congressional Committees actions or government reviews, that media dissemination and class action litigations will not be necessary. Given the opportunity for a congressional or a government advisory hearing, I can also orchestrate great many testimonials to such committees that would, on condition of immunity from government harassment and intimidations, should be happy to share their ordeals with you in expectation of safeguarding their legitimate civil and constitutional rights in their adopted country to which they have given so very much and continue to do so, proudly. The irony of it is that not only are the above ethnic groups, due to their perceived, albeit baseless religious or cultural inclinations, presumed collectively guilty and thereby violating their habeas corpus and due process to prove their innocence, but, with certain exceptions, they themselves may not be informed of such violations inflicted against them as it is carried through covert means and with no legal justifications. One can not help it but to painfully recall the terms of internment of over two million "suspects" worldwide by the Allied forces, over half million Americans alone, during Word War II. In retrospect, the baseless pernicious humiliation brought upon these citizens could have been prevented had the hysteria of profiling the "enemy" been questioned by the good citizens of stature and influence.
The above patriotic Americans of ME (e.g., Iranian origin) are systematically profiled and singled out during their travels, and when applying for government positions for which they are indeed manifestly qualified but denied due to lack of sound due process to secure security clearance, and are approached by government officials with harassing intimidations from the CIA, FBI, DHS and the NSA to "cooperate" and become "informants." Against their will, there are some who are systematically approached through patronizing intimations for "cooperation". Under violation of FISA/PATRIOT Acts, there are ample painful examples of government surveillance and wire tapping of Americans whereby individuals are subjected to coercive interrogations by the federal agents, in particular, those from the so called, National Resources Division of the Central Intelligence Agency. Paradoxically, the above citizens are, by and large, emancipated from their country of origin with the exception of family ties, which oblige them to travel back to Iran as in our particular instance for such ailing elderly parents, despite their huge financial and emotional burdens, and our affidavit of support, of traveling to third country, are systematically denied temporary tourist visas to visit American families in the US. It goes, of course, without saying that all Americans including naturalized ones should and would report any substantiated illegal or criminal activities to the authorities to prevent potential disasters. That notwithstanding, the absurd notion of profiling specific ethnic groups, or singling them out for surveillance and/or humiliating and denigrating interrogations and search in public such as the airports, is simply Un-American. It reminds one of the bitter days of Auschwitz or the Gulag concentration camps or the internment of the Japanese Americans. Ironically, a great many of the Iranian-Americans have fled their native countries with substantial capital and advanced educational and professional acumens in the dire hope of living their lives peacefully in the promised-land! What a promised land this has become on your watch, indeed. As painful as it may seem, such ex-compatriot Iranian-Americans when traveling to Iran are treated with outmost respect and dignity there but not in their American port of departure or entry.
As I continue sharing just a few of our personal predicaments, and, as much I had hoped these anecdotal were simply the exceptions, let me reassure you that such personal stories are simply the tip of an iceberg, as one can hardly find a single Iranian-American or the Middle Eastern American who has not be subjected to, or lives daily without, the apprehensive fear of bogus persecutions in the U.S. It is so painfully ironic that while Iranian-Americans fled their motherland to seek democracy, freedom, human rights, equal opportunity, and civil and constitutional rights in the U.S., that they once again find themselves in a desperate situation where the same exact set of rights are denied of them?
In enthusiastic response to 9/11 many in our community strove to undergo a career change and reckoned of joining the federal agencies in order to substantively utilize their decades of scientific track records in support of forensic and law enforcements, and civilian protections. Some were indeed selected on several occasions amongst the only finalists for GS-15(step 10) and SES/ST tier positions within the FBI and DOD/Army Laboratory Divisions, among other agencies. However, in every case, and, without any due process, presumably because of their country of origin, the said agencies did not even bother to pursue the acquisition of security clearance, nor provide an iota of explanations to them. The Offices of Personnel Management, EE/EO and/or the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, when contacted under FOIA, did not follow through such complaints either. The above employing agencies, however, acted more professionally, to say the least, when compared to many other federal positions for which candidates were qualified, having compared their credentials with those who were in the end appointed to the positions. These latter federal agencies did not even acknowledge the receipt of submitted applications. Having, in recent past, many served as members of advisory board for various government panels as typified by House advisory panels (e.g., for Nita Lowey), the editorial board of the Forensic Science Communications (published by the FBI), while others continue presiding over contextual annual symposiums such as "Scientific Advances in Counterterrorism, Homeland Security, and Forensics", they still feel they have much to contribute.
When traveling, my family and I especially since September 11 are subjected to some of the cruelest scrutiny, capricious interrogations and egregious body and luggage searches, unprecedented in our history. When feeling outraged, the painful dilemma is that the airport agents constantly admonish us with the phrase, "Remember September11?" As if we had anything to do with it. Such humiliating and denigrating mistreatment occurs in the presence of hundreds of other onlookers, who stare at us with hate and suspicion. My wife and I may have over our lifetimes become painfully attuned to such mistreatment as we tend to internalize it and deal with it as tragic comedy. It has, however, now hit our U.S. born children devastatingly, especially our 11-year old daughter, who, when struggling to board Air France with my wife enroute to Tehran to visit her ailing and aging grandparents on December 14, was so frightened and shell-shocked, the traumatic pain inflicted upon her will remain for the rest of her life. She is a superb young girl, with IQ that stands among the top 1% of the populations; she is doing excellently in school, and has had ambitious aspiration to move to the highest possible office in the U.S.by changing the minimum age requirement of 35! After her ordeal, I despair and only hope that her long-term aspirations are not detrimentally undermined. She has been horrified of returning home, begging us to move out of the US and live peacefully elsewhere. To sum it, no Iranian-American I surmise, has ever been mistreated anywhere else including their homeland where they may travel as ex-patriots, to the traumatic extent here in the U.S. Moreover, there are ample cases of visa denials to our families with no explanations given, whereby in those few exceptional visas granted to our senior citizen parents, the individuals upon entry to the U.S. are strip searched repeatedly and interrogated, with mostly irrelevant and personal questions, for hours. And last but least, have we ever wondered why the close family members of Iranian-Americans petitioned for immigration have got wait overseas for over twenty years, whereas the government claims even with the backlog, such cohorts are unusually processed in "just a few years?" Have we ever asked whose interest is being served why is it that parents of Iranian-Americans have got to go up to five times to a third country for visa processing and await anxiously for over a year before only a few are allowed to visit their American offspring here?
Has anyone ever asked the DHS, the CIA or the FBI and/or the administration how the zealot security of the nation as a whole, which cost us, the taxpayers, hundreds of billion dollars annually, has led to any measurable substantiated security? Have you ever asked the administration and the federal agencies, with the above zealot scrutiny and intimating surveillance, whether or not they have found any corroborated terrorists suspects, thereby curtailing a terrorist plot? Have you ever asked the policy makers, administration and the federal agencies whether there has ever been a convicted Iranian terrorist, especially from amongst the one million Iranian-Americans, which might therefore, justify such mass intimidation? The fortuitous, nonetheless, unrecognized irony of it is that the crime rate among Iranian-Americans stands at the meager one-twentieth of our national average, according to U.S. census and independent analysis.
I understand when this grievance statement was submitted to various government organs that congressional aid or a junior staff might review this communiqué to decide whether or not to provide a synopsis and possible recommendation. If they have answered NO to any or all the above questions, then, it is meritoriously incumbent upon them to take all steps necessary in order to correct what has gone wrong for too long. The time for action is far over due, as the country has been subjected to some of the most tumultuous, costliest and polarizing predicaments never recorded in its two hundred years of history, for which no one can show any result.
Epitomizing, a sustainable bloc of vote to be finally noticed, not only for the Iranian-Americans but more effectively along with Americans of Middle Eastern, South and Central Asians and North African heritage is the effective "American" way to advocate for and truly earn our civil and constitutional rights. That requires a $10 annual contributions per person (that is $100M for 10 million such Americans), massive voter registration and substantive participation in the political process in our country.
... Payvand News - 02/04/08 ... --