- Associated Press - Sunday, January 29, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - An Iranian religion professor at Vermont’s Middlebury College who has been doing research in his native country since last summer said Sunday he was unsure about when he would be able to return to the United States.

Assistant Professor of Religion Ata Anzali, his wife and 12-year-old daughter are legal permanent residents of the U.S. Their youngest daughter, 9, is a U.S. citizen.

They were considering staying in Iran until spring, but because of the uncertainty created by the Trump administration’s immigration orders they decided to return now.

They had flight reservations that would have had them arrive in New York just before noon on Sunday, but they changed their travel plans at the last minute.

“I canceled two flights because I wasn’t sure if I go, I don’t want my kids to go through this traumatic experience of being detained or deported,” Anzali told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Iran, where they have 10 suitcases jammed into a two-bedroom apartment.

Anzali and his wife still have plans to close on a new home near Middlebury and they hope to return. They are watching U.S. policy to see how it will affect them.

“This is causing so much confusion, what are we supposed to do? Even now I can’t tell you, I don’t trust this latest development,” Anzali said referring to word Sunday that permanent U.S. residents from the affected countries would be allowed to return.

Middlebury College Vice President for Academic Affairs Andi Lloyd said Sunday college officials were reacting to Anzali’s situation and the fast-moving developments on a human level. But in the longer-term, the free-flow of people and ideas across the world is critical to Middlebury College, Lloyd said.

“We are an institution that is built on the study of language, the study of other cultures, the study of the world as a whole,” Lloyd said. “That’s all foundational to who we are as an institution. We are this little campus in rural Vermont and yet, we have faculty, staff, students who are drawn from all around the world.”

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