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"My husband is not a threat"

KIMT: Sitting in her office in Rockville Maryland, high-school teacher Jessica Breitschwerdt Monfared checked the image on her cell phone to make sure she was centered on the screen. She took a breath and pushed the record button.

"Hi, my name is Jessica Monfared," she said, raising a photo up to the camera showing her and a man, smiling, their arms around one another, "and I married my Iranian husband this past March, in Denmark." She and her husband, Pouya Monfared, applied the next month for a spousal visa so he could join her in Maryland. "We are going through this process to follow the rules and bring him here properly," she said on the video.

"With the travel ban in place," she added, "we're just not sure that he'll be able to come, or at least not any time soon -- which, as newlyweds, is really frustrating, because we just want to be together."

Monfared's video is one of more than a hundred posted over the past few months on the web site in-it.com by American citizens, permanent residents or prospective immigrants who are being kept apart from their wives, husbands, betrothed, children, or other family members by the Trump administration's travel ban. The most recent version of the ban has been in effect since December 2017, and mostly targets Muslim-majority countries. The video campaign, organized by several immigrants from Iran, opens a window into the desperation of what one libertarian think tank estimated is more than 10,000 people from five Muslim-majority countries who have been kept from their loved ones since the ban took effect.

Many say they feel trapped in a bureaucratic limbo, hoping against hope to be granted one of the ban's waivers or exceptions. In practice, the State Department grants few waivers. According to data released by the department in February, during the first 11 months of the ban, through last October, only 5.9% of visa applicants were given a waiver, while another 29% were waiting in "administrative processing."

The State Department declined interview requests from CNN, but emailed a response stating, in part, that as of the end of January, "2,673 applicants were cleared for waivers after a consular officer determined the applicants satisfied all criteria and completed required processing. Many of those applicants already have received their visas. The bases on which an applicant may be excepted from the Proclamation or qualify for a waiver are clearly explained in the Presidential Proclamation itself." Those waivers include ones for both immigrant and non-immigrant applicants, such as students and researchers -- a total pool of tens of thousands a year.

The department didn't respond to questions about the process for issuing waivers. However, in a February 22 letter to Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, an official wrote that "The burden of proof is on the alien to establish that they are eligible for a visa and a waiver to the satisfaction of the consular officer." >>>

Some tweets...

Let there be light

Valentino keeping warm.

'Had to post it...

Sunny Afternoon

Plaza de Armas yesterday.

This is where the magic happens

At Cucharitas ice cream parlor.

Camelia Entekhabifard appointed editor of Independent Persian

Arab News: The Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) has announced the soft launch of The Independent Persian, which will be edited by Camelia Entekhabifard, a columnist and Iranian analyst for Arab News and several other renowned media outlets.

The website marks the fourth phase of SRMG’s project to launch The Independent in Arabic, Turkish, Urdu and Persian under a licensing agreement signed last year with the British news publisher.

SRMG announced the appointment of Camelia Entekhabifard — the well-known journalist, political analyst and Arab News columnist — as editor-in-chief of www.independentpersian.com.

A group of experienced journalists have joined the project and are working in its offices in New York City.

“The launch of IndependentPersian.com stands as the fourth and the last phase of our multi-lingual project with The Independent,” said SRMG Chairman Abdulrahman Alrowaita.

“We are so eager to have the new website able to attract a wider readership of Persian language to read a diversified content of very high professional standards. We do hope, with such project we introduce to our readership, the media and content creation industries will be enriched in our region and the world.”

Soraya's nest

On the tumbo vine.

Tehran 1960's

Grandmother Helen Jeffreys Bakhtiar.

Morning Glory

Outside San Pedro market. 

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