UTRGV Professor from Turkey Speaks Out on Visa Ban

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EDINBURG – The suspension on non-immigrant visas to Turkey is hurting a Rio Grande Valley university’s chance to get its name out there.

The University Of Texas Rio Grande Valley forced to halt their plans due to the ban. The UTRGV dean and several colleagues were scheduled to buy their plane tickets to Turkey on Monday.

A UTRGV professor with ties to Turkey said it's an opportunity lost for the university.

"When I heard it yesterday, my immediate concern was what's going to happen to the conference? Because we are co-sponsors of a conference,” he said.

UTRGV Middle East studies professor Tamer Balci is from Istanbul, Turkey.

"My mom lives in Istanbul. I have my mom, my sister and brother,” said Balci.

Balci has lived in the Valley for 11 years. He has dual citizenship and will not be impacted by the ban. However, his work will be affected.

He helped set up UTRGV to attend a security and disaster conference in Turkey next week.

"[It’s] about how to deal with terrorism and what kind of strategies you can do from a political science perspective, from a security science perspective. How ISIS is using media to recruit people. And disaster and security studies are related because whenever a disaster hits our country, it creates a security problem,” said Balci.

The ban will keep the UTRGV dean professors from attending. The decision comes a week after a U.S. consulate worker was arrested in Istanbul.

"Despite our best efforts to learn the reasons for this arrest, we have been unable to determine why it occurred or what if any evidence exists against the employee,” said U.S./Turkey Ambassador John Bass.

Bass sent out a statement on Monday on the U.S. embassy and consulates in Turkey website about the visa ban.

"It's a suspension of our consideration of new visa applications. If you have a valid visa you can still travel to the United States. If you want to apply for a visa at another U.S. embassy or consulate outside of turkey you are free to do so,” said Bass.

Balci hopes the issue gets resolved or exceptions are provided before next week.

"It’s a decision we took with great sadness. We realize this suspension of visa services will inconvenience people,” said Bass.

Bass also explains more about the arrested U.S. consulate Turkish staff member employee. The employee works in strengthening law enforcement cooperation and ensuring the security of Turkish and U.S. citizens.

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