South Floridians with dual citizenship confused about Trump's travel ban

Google tells employees who are dual nationals to stay in United States

By Paradise Afshar - Digital Editor, CNN

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - Zahra Khan  hasn’t seen her grandparents in two years, and with her grandmother in poor health, she decided to make the trip to Iran. Ten days ago, she bought tickets for herself, her husband, her three children and her niece from Qatar Airways.  

But now, the trip may be up in the air.

Khan holds dual citizenship between the United States and Iran. Her fear is that she may not be able to return to the United States if she travels out of the country due to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that temporarily stops immigration from seven countries for 90 days, which includes Iran.

 One key question for many is how the order will affect US green card holders and people who hold dual citizenship with a Trump-approved country and one of the seven banned nations.

"I consider myself an American, and that’s why it hurts so bad," Khan, 37, said. "I am an American but I can’t travel. I am an American but I can’t make travel plans or go freely where I want to go."

Khan, who is an attorney, said she has read the order and spoken to legal experts who’ve told her to hold off on travel until the law is cleared up.

Adding to the confusion, Trump administration officials seemed to at times contradict themselves during appearances on Sunday news shows.

 In mere minutes during an interview with NBC, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the order "doesn't affect" green card holders, then later said "of course" it affects green card holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia -- the seven countries Trump has temporarily stop immigration from for 90 days.

Initially, the guidance provided by a State Department official was that someone who holds dual citizenship from one of the seven banned countries would be barred from entering the United States.

"Travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of one of these countries will not be permitted for 90 days to enter the United States or be issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa," a State Department official said Saturday. "Those nationals or dual nationals holding valid immigrant or non-immigrant visas will not be permitted to enter the United States during this period."

This guidance means that an Iranian national who also holders a Canadian passport would be barred from entering the United States.

The same State Department official told CNN that the executive order "should not affect dual-national Americans at all," meaning a US citizen who also holds citizenship from one of Trump's seven banned countries would be allowed in.

But in the last 24 hours, the guidance has seemingly changed.

The International Air Transport Association told their airlines that dual nationals who hold a passport from an approved country would be allowed in.

"Dual nationals holding and traveling with a valid passport issued by a State other than one of the above-mentioned will be allowed entry provided meeting all criteria based upon the passenger's nationality," their guidance reads.

The confusion, however, has led many companies and institutions to caution anyone with citizenship or ties to one of the seven banned countries from leaving the United States.

Representative from Google, for example, told employees who are dual nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to stay in the United States before more clarity could be provided.

Khan is concerned about her travel plans and is seeking more clarity on the law.

In the meanwhile she  plans to work with the Americans for Civil Liberties and other organizations by lending her legal opinion and language skills.

But that doesn’t stop the feelings of hurt.

“I thought there was no different between my citizenship and my neighbor’s citizenship,” Khan said. “Most of the time I consider myself an American before anything else, because this is my home. But I leave, I may not be able to come back home.” 

CNN/WPLG 2017