Amnesty Will End Family’s 7-Year Fight With AM-Amnesty Rdp
CLEVELAND (AP) _ An Iranian family felt confident that their six-year struggle to stay in the United States had ended Tuesday, as they filed applications for amnesty.
Yahya Doustdar, 55, his wife, Mahin, 44, and their 14-year-old son, Ramin, filed applications for amnesty under the new immigration law. Their oldest son, Babak, 19, is away at college.
The Doustdars have been illegal residents of the United States since 1980 when Doustdar’s five-year student visa expired. Doustdar, an associate professor at the University of Tehran, came to Cleveland in 1975 to enter a doctoral program in library science at Case Western Reserve University.
He said he planned to return to Iran when he completed his doctorate in 1980, but his colleagues warned him against returning because of the political turmoil. The Shah had been ousted in 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini had taken power and American hostages were being held at the U.S. embassy.
For a few months, Doustdar said he laid low, not knowing what to do.
″I was scared to go to the immigration offices,″ he said in a telephone interview from his suburban Chesterland home on Monday. ″I was packed and ready to go back.″
Doustdar said he thought Khomeini’s reign would be brief, and he could soon return home. After about seven months, he decided to contact immigration officials.
″In a hide-out, it’s like hell. So I thought the best way was to go there and explain the situation,″ he said.
Doustdar said he was denied an extension, and in 1982, he and his family were ordered deported. They have remained in the United States through a number of appeals.
Since 1980, Doustdar said he has been unable to find a full-time job in library science. He said he supported his family by doing odd jobs - restoring antiques, repairing appliances and even taking over his son’s newspaper route.
″The uncertainty is the worst thing,″ said Doustdar. ″Not be be certain about the future - that’s the worst thing that can happen to anyone.″
That stress, he believes, contributed to a heart attack he suffered in March. Just as he was released from the hospital, Doustdar said he learned from officials that his family could seek amnesty under the new law.
″I was so happy ... this was the best news I could hear,″ he said.