Iranian Americans Are Not Second Class Citizens

In response to the San Bernardino attack, the US House of Representatives passed the visa waiver reform bill by a 407-19 vote.

The legislation, amongst other racially charged restrictions, bars Iranian dual nationals in Europe and anyone who has visited Iran since 2011 from traveling to the U.S. without a visa.

Visa requirements are based on reciprocity. This bill risks triggering matching restrictions from Europe and other visa waiver countries - meaning that US citizens of Iranian background could be barred from traveling to Europe without a visa.

More dangerously, if the bill becomes law, it will push these Americans toward a status of second class citizenship.

The bill targets over one million Iranian-Americans and eighty million Iranians, a population that has not carried out a single terrorist attack on the US homeland.

The bill claims to protect US citizens from those who would manipulate the visa waver program to attack America. Yet the bill fails to address countries that have committed the vast majority of terrorist attacks on US soil, such as Saudi Arabia (17 attackers), Pakistan (8 attackers), and Egypt (7 attackers).

These countries are exempt from the bill due to their economic and lobbying ties to the US government. Every year they receive billions of US paid tax dollars in aid and US weapons. Today, many of these weapons have found their way into the hands of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS.

Just as it is absurd to allow individuals on the 'no fly list' to have access to assault rifles in the US, it is even more dangerous for US gun companies, with the backing of the House and Senate, to sell weapons to countries who have directly and indisputably armed Al Qaeda and ISIS.

The House's visa waiver reform bill addresses none of the above threats, and does not hold arms dealers accountable for their continued sales to Mid-East countries. Today, a substantial number of ISIS's weapons are reportedly US made.

To truly combat and end the worldwide recruitment of young men into terrorism camps, the US should adjust its blank economic and military support of dictators in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.

Many of these autocrats have stayed in power by utilizing and promoting fanatic religious sects, sects such as the Wahhabis, who regularly fuel recruitments from Saudi Arabia to ISIS.

Unfortunately, instead of combating the roots of terrorism, this bill scapegoats Iranian Americans, millions of US professionals who have helped build America. Professionals that strive in education and economy in the US and in the Mid-East, the real weapons that can end terrorism.

Our Senators and elected officials should introduce bills that embrace these patriots, not legislation that punishes them and dangerously sets back decades of American progress in equal rights.