Rep. Gresham Barrett's (R-S.C.) office has confirmed to the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) that he will drop language aimed at deporting non-immigrant Iranians from the U.S. when he reintroduces the Stop Terrorists Entry Program (STEP) Act.
This is a major victory for the Iranian-American community.
When the STEP Act was first introduced in 2003, it contained provisions that would have mandated the deportation of all Iranians on student visas, temporary work visas, exchange visas, and tourist visas from the United States within 60 days.
On Tuesday, NIAC staff hand-delivered over 3,500 letters from concerned Americans, asking the Congressman to reconsider his legislation.
Though the elimination of the deportation provisions constitutes a significant victory for the Iranian-American community, the bill remains problematic. The legislation would make it illegal for Iranians to travel to the United States, though some exceptions may be made for medical emergencies and political or religious asylum after "extensive federal screening."
"Eliminating the deportation provisions is welcomed but it isn't enough," said Trita Parsi, President of NIAC. "We shouldn't make it more difficult for Iranians to seek refuge in the US at a time when repression in Iran is increasing."