GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — An Iranian engineer who had been blocked from returning to South Carolina by President Donald Trump's travel ban against seven Muslim nations returned to the U.S. on Sunday, her employer said.
Nazanin Zinouri cleared through an immigration check in Boston and expected to return home Monday to Clemson, where the 29-year-old works for startup technology firm Modjoul, company founder Eric Martinez said in a phone interview. Zinouri had spent about 30 hours traveling from the Iranian capital, where she had gone late last month to visit family.
Zinouri, who is a legal U.S. resident, said last week she was taken off a plane in Dubai days after Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning entry from citizens of Iran and six other nations.
A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked the travel ban following a lawsuit by Washington state and Minnesota that said Trump's order is causing significant harm to residents and effectively mandates discrimination. A federal appeals court on Sunday denied a Justice Department request for an immediate reinstatement of the ban, creating at least a temporary opening for travel by citizens of the seven countries.
Zinouri said she rushed to return to the United States before the Trump administration could persuade other judges to reinstate the ban.
"The last 48 hours have felt a lot longer than 48 hours," she told Greenville television station WHNS (http://bit.ly/2jkHvZS). "It was chaos, it was a lot stress, it was a lot of shock and it was hearing the rumors, and then going from the rumors to actually something happening that would possibly affect my entire life and trying to somehow address the problem."
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had urged Trump's executive order to be modified to people like Zinouri could enter the United States. Graham told people at Zinouri's workplace in Clemson, South Carolina, that the Clemson University graduate "is exactly the type of person we want to be part of America."
"We've made a mistake," Graham said. "What I think happened here is the executive order was issued without really thinking it through."
The Trump administration said the president's executive order banning U.S. entry citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen is necessary to keep out potential terrorists until stricter vetting procedures are put in place.
Zinouri moved to the U.S. in August 2010 and obtained a master's degree from Northern Illinois University, then obtained a Ph.D. in industrial engineering last year on a full scholarship from Clemson University, where she won a prestigious research award.
She began working in August for Modjoul, which makes a monitor for workers to help companies prevent injuries. Martinez, of Mercer Island, Washington, described Zinouri as "the smartest lady I know."
Martinez said Zinouri made plans to watch the Super Bowl on television in Boston.