ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - An Iranian woman says customs and border agents at Orlando International Airport questioned her and held her for seven hours when she returned to Orlando. She says a local congressman finally helped secure her release.
Negin Alimohamadi is an engineer who works in central Florida and lives in Winter Springs. The University of Central Florida graduate was born and raised in Iran, in a city near the capital, Tehran. She says, however, there's only one place she loves to live.
“I love American society, I love American people, I love to live in a society that stands for freedom, for equality, for humanity,” Alimohamadi said.
She has a green card, and has lived in the U.S. for six years. This past December, she returned to Iran for the first time to visit her family.
“One day I woke up with the news of a new order being signed,” Alimohamadi said, “and that order could have changed my whole life.”
She was referring to President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring citizens of Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and Iran from entering the country. Alimohamadi jumped on the next plane back to the United States. American friends got her in touch with Congressman Darren Soto.
“I knew that when I arrive at the airport they will be there for me to defend my rights,” Alimohamadi said.
It took a long time, though. She says agents questioned her for about ten minutes, and then she sat waiting for seven hours.
“After seven hours,” Alimohamadi said, “they told me you got exempt, you can go out.”
She says it was an emotional moment, and all her friends were waiting for her. She wonders when she'll see her family again, though, and worries for friends who aren't so lucky.
“Now, with this order, their futures – everything – is affected,” she said, “that's so sad, so unfair, so inhumane.”
Alimohamadi says her family in Iran supports her decision to stay in the United States. She says she'll keep speaking up for others affected by the travel ban.