'We've Been Dogged by 40 Years of Bad Relations': Professor Karim Discusses Iranian-American Community

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

ASSOCIATED PRESS -- Many Iranian immigrants recall being taunted as children after Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran were taken hostage and held for 444 days. Today, many are separated from their relatives overseas by the Trump administration’s travel ban, which has made some Americans of Iranian heritage feel their standing is in question despite their citizenship status and longstanding ties to the U.S.

“In economic terms, it has been a pretty successful community, however, we have been dogged by 40 years of bad relations between the United States and Iran,” said Persis Karim, chair of San Francisco State University’s Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies. “People feel like their place in the U.S. has kind of continuously been under question, or not completely at ease, because of this bigger relationship between these two countries.”

After the revolution, many Iranian immigrants sought to distance themselves from the upheaval in their homeland by calling themselves Persian. The second generation, Karim said, has identified more often as Iranian-American to show pride in their heritage and their U.S. citizenship.