Austin family makes plea for Iranian sister to be allowed to see dying mother

Fatemeh Azartash (Family Photo)
Fatemeh Azartash (Family Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the call no-one wants to receive. When a loved one is close to passing away, every second counts.

“Her condition just started getting worse,” said Houri Hedayatifar. Houri’s mother, 88-year-old Fatemeh Azartash, was already suffering from dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, but recently she took another turn for the worse.

“I noticed she had difficulty breathing and she was sweating and turning blue,” said Hedayatifar.

Azartash was rushed to St. David’s North Austin Medical Center where for nearly two weeks now, she has been on life support in the Intensive Care Unit.

“Our life is upside down,” Hedayatifar said. Ever since her mother was admitted to the hospital, Hedayatifar has been fighting to bring her oldest sister, Akram, to America from Iran to say goodbye.

“I’m just waiting any moment to tell me your mom is gone and I couldn’t do anything in my ability to bring my sister to see my mom for the last time”

Hedayatifar says she’s tried reaching out to her local representative, as well as Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, President Trump and former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. She’s pleading for an emergency or visitors visa for her sister, but has yet to hear back.

“I’m just so fed up, I’m just so sick,” Hedayatifar said. “I just want to know, what should I do?”

Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Iran, Iranians must go to other countries for visa interviews, requiring a screening process that can take months.

President Trump’s recent travel ban for those in 6 Muslim-majority countries can also add extra time and scrutiny to the process.

Just a few months ago, a questionnaire was rolled out as part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States. It asks for all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.

It’s a lot of time and effort their mother simply doesn’t have.

“Is this how the United States is supposed to be? Is this the humanity? Is this the freedom?” Hedayatifar said.

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