Last month, the Louisiana House urged state colleges and universities to refuse to admit Iranians. But the state Senate, which has "a few statesmen," grumped one legislator, watered down the measure.
Then the House asked schools to more than quadruple the annual tuition for Iranian graduate students, from $500 to about $2,200.
And last Tuesday, the House urged all state institutions to tell Iranians who want jobs to look elsewhere -- preferably outside Louisiana.
"You hear anything some other state's doing," Rep. James David Cain told a reporter, "you let us know, 'cause we'll pass it. We're going to lay awake at night. If we can think of somthing else we can do to Iranians, we'll do it."
More than eight months after Iranian militants seized the American Embassy in Tehran and took more than 50 hostages, officials in several states have started to take matters into their own hands. They are spurred by the anger and frustration of their constituents, who want, quite simply, to get back at Iran.
In New Mexico, the state Board of Regents earlier this month unanimously voted to bar Iranians from attending state schools, beginning July 15.
"Each of us felt like it was time for us . . . to do something," said Bill Humphries, who heads the board.
"We recognize that they're not the ones that are holding the hostages," Humphries said of the 40 Iranians attending state schools. "But neither are the hostages responsible for any of the things they're being held for.
"Nobody gave the Americans until July 15 to go home. We have given them the right to go to another university."
Mississippi Gov. William Winter late last month signed legislation boosting the foreign-student fee for Iranians in state schools from $825 to $4,000 to force them to pay what the state calculates to be the full cost of a Mississippi education.
"I don't see that we owe these people anything at all," said state Rep. Charles W. Capps, who sponsored the measure. "Why should the people of Mississippi bear the burden for people who don't have any love for our country?
Such proposals, one of which also was introduced recently in the New Jersey Legislature, have not gone uncontested.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit to overturn the state actions in both New Mexico and Mississippi, claiming they violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
But Charles Capps, for one, doesn't care what the courts have to say about the law he has helped to bring to Mississippi.
"I look at what's right and wrong," said Capps. "What's constitutional doesn't bother me.
"We generally lose constitutional battles in Mississippi, and we'll probably lose this one. But we're going to have a go at it."
While states have begun to take steps against Iranians within their borders, isolated acts of harassment on the community level have continued Tina Bahadori, an Atlantic City High School senior, withdrew this month from delivering the class valedictory speech after 80 faculty members signed a petition objecting to an Iranian giving it. In California, two Venezuelans mistakenly believed to be Iranian were attacked and beaten in April.
But such cases have become increasingly rare, as the hostage issue has faded from public consciousness.
The U.S. Justice Department -- whose Immigration and Naturalization Service has moved to throw all deportable Iranians out of the country -- has joined the ACLU's challenge to the Mississippi law.
Iranians generally have been required to leave as their visas expire, earlier this month to all Iranians accepted to graduate school, medical school or law school as of June 9. Such students will be permitted to complete their studies before leaving. High school students accepted to college have not been exempted.