The National Iranian American Council is on high alert after a South Carolina Congressman announced this week that he will introduce legislation which would require the deportation of all Iranians living in America.
The Stop Terrorists Entry Program Act (STEP) was first introduced by Rep. J. Gresham Barrett (R-SC) in 2003 [PDF link]. The updated version, he explained in a media advisory, would bar citizens of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Syria from entry into the United States. It would further require citizens of those nations who are legally visiting or residing in the United States to be deported within 60 days.
And he's doing this as a response to an American who killed 12 other soldiers at Fort Hood, and a Nigerian who allegedly attempted to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day.
If the apparent problems with such a proposal are not not abundantly clear, the Iranian-American blog niacINsight puts it another way: "The American Army major and Nigerian alleged to have committed those attacks would not have been affected by the STEP Act."
"Twice in the past two months, radical Islamic terrorists have attacked our nation and the Administration has failed to adapt its national security and immigration policies to counter the renewed resolve of those who seek to harm our citizens," Barrett opined.
The National Iranian American Council was not amused.
"At a time of increasing repression in Iran, this proposal will impose even greater burdens on Iranians seeking refuge abroad," they insisted. "Iranian Americans must unite to tell Congressman Barrett that this legislation is offensive to American principles, harmful to US interests and discriminates against Iranians and Iranian Americans."
A letter that it is urging supporters to send to the congressman insists that being born Iranian or having Iranian parents does not make one more likely or more inclined to become a terrorist.
"The Iranian people stand opposed to acts of terrorism and even took to the streets en masse to express their solidarity with the United States on September 11, 2001, and to express their disgust with the heinous acts committed that day," the group pleads.
"Individuals seeking political or religious asylum or emergency medical treatment may be exempt from these provisions, only after an extensive federal screening," Barrett insists at the end of his advisory.
"The United States is home to over one million Iranian Americans who will be affected by this bill," added the Iranian American Council. "Their families will no longer be able to visit, their friends will face deportation, and they will be stigmatized and unjustly scrutinized if this bill becomes law."
"The STEP Act is not only damaging to America's reputation, it is also extremely offensive to the Iranian American community," the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), according to Salem News. "Iranian Americans are hard working, law abiding citizens who have done much to strengthen the economic and social fabric of the United States. Furthermore, recent events unfolding in Iran following the disputed June 12th presidential elections highlight the fact that the Iranian people seek democratic freedoms and basic human rights. In fact, it was the Iranian people who held candle-lit vigils on the streets of Tehran in solidarity with the American people in the days following the 9/11 attacks."