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Photo: Kayana Szymczak / Stringer/Getty Images

Several Iranian students were barred from their flights to the United States, after their visas were abruptly rescinded earlier this month, just days before beginning graduate programs in the U.S. for engineering and computer science, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: The 12 or so visa cancellations come as tensions continue to mount between Iran and the U.S. However, this occurred before the recent oil facility attacks in Saudi Arabia, which Iran has been held responsible for, per the Times.

  • The State Department claims there have been no sudden policy shifts to student visas. However, the federal government can make such cancellations at any time thanks to a 2012 law enacted by President Obama that requires the U.S. to deny student visas specifically for Iranians who could use their educations to work in the Iranian energy or nuclear sectors.

The big picture: Trump's travel ban has made it so most Iranians can't even travel to the U.S., according to the Times.

  • Chinese students have also experienced visa-related issues, as President Trump's trade war continues to strain international relations, writes the Times.
    • 9 Chinese undergraduate students were detained en route to Arizona State University at the Los Angeles Airport last month, before being sent back to China without explanation, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Go deeper

15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

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