Refugee order puts strain on Iranian-Americans

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A temporary ban on refugees from several Muslim-majority countries is making it nearly impossible for relatives and friends of an estimated 1 million Iranian-Americans to visit the U.S.

In retaliation, Iran has said it will stop U.S. citizens from entering its country -- unless they already have a valid visa.

Negin Shojaeinia and her family fled Iran almost 17 years ago to escape religious persecution.

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They went through the rigorous process of becoming U.S. citizens.

"I thought that persecution was going to stop when we moved to the States," she said.

Negin Shojaeinia

The UNC graduate, who now lives in Raleigh, shared an emotional video on social media.

"Seeing today's news makes me feel like I'm just not welcomed here. We moved here to feel safe and protected," she cried.

Shoejaeinia's family has been taking turns visiting Iran to care for her aunt, who is battling terminal cancer.

Her mother planned to go soon but is now afraid to leave the U.S.

"It's an attack on the vision I had embraced when my family and I moved to the states. It shattered that vision," Shojaeinia said.

Protests continued across the country Monday in response to the travel ban.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump said "Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting NOW."

Despite the outcry, Trump is moving ahead with his executive order. It's unclear what will happen when the temporary ban expires in 90 days.

"I see his concern, and I do believe in a strong vetting process because I want to be safe," Shojaeinia said.

But she said the country where she sought refuge is now only making it harder for families to be united.

"I agree that everyone needs to put in their time, but allow them to put in their time. Allow them to prove themselves worthy," she said.

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