Brother of Iranian UAlbany Professors reunited with family amid block on immigration order

February 10, 2017 11:52 PM

ALBANY – For more than a week, Ali Alaei was blocked from re-entering the U.S. under President Donald Trump's immigration order.

Now the UAlbany visiting scholar is reunited with his family in the Capital Region, including his brother Doctor Kamiar Alaei. 

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“First, I saw my father and then Ali so it was very exciting,” said Dr. Kamiar Alaei. “I think one of the best times of my life,” he said.

Ali is a 37-year-old architecture professor.

He is living in the U.S. on a scholar visa.

He was visiting their father and other family in Iran when the travel ban took effect in late January.

Iran is one of seven restricted Muslim-majority nations included in the immigration order.

“We need to be safe but I don't want people to get targeted based on their nationality or the country that they were born,” Dr. Kamiar Alaei said.

Doctors Alaei and his older brother Doctor Arash Alaei, who are both UAlbany faculty members, sought help from the university, lawmakers and Albany Law School Associate professor Sarah Rogerson.

“Representative Tonko was very active in moving this case forward and other representatives as well,” Rogerson said. “And then eventually it moved up through the state department,” she said.

Rogerson said a temporary block on the travel ban allowed Ali to fly into JFK airport Tuesday.

“Soon as the Friday night ruling hit we were on the phone saying please get on the next plane you can because we don't know what's going to happen next,” Rogerson said.

Alaei and his older brother, Arash, were once political prisoners in their home country, Iran.

He said Ali's experience reminded him of that dark time.

“We got used to of this unexpected thing happen daily basis in the Middle East,” Dr. Alaei said. “But I never ever expect let this happen in the US,” he said.

Dr. Alaei and Rogerson hope the Trump administration rethinks their immigration policies.

“Exactly why the court ruled the way that it did is because we need and immigration system that's consistent and fair and welcoming,” Rogerson said.

“And that this will be a lesson that we learn,” Dr. Alaei said. “If there will be new executive orders they should be shared with those who get affected,” he said.

The brother's father also lives in the Capital Region and returned with Ali Tuesday.

Ali is scheduled to begin lecturing at UAlbany soon.


Nia Hamm

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