On January 20, 2020, US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials at Logan International Airport denied entry to an Iranian national who was set to study economics at Northeastern University. Despite a federal court order to delay the student’s deportation, CBP placed him on a plane to Paris on Monday night.
Kerry Doyle, the attorney for Mohammad Dehghani, said the 24-year-old was traveling to the US with a valid F1 student visa before he was held for questioning at the airport. A federal judge in Boston issued an emergency halt to the deportation Monday night, stating that Dehghani’s deportation should be delayed for two
days and scheduled a hearing in Boston federal court for Tuesday. Despite this, Dehghani was deported to Paris. Officials at Boston University said in a statement Monday night that they are aware their student was denied entry into the country and were in contact with federal officials and working to facilitate the student’s successful return to Northeastern.
Northeastern “welcomes thousands of international students and supports them with an array of resources,” the university said in its statement.
In a statement issued on January 20, a spokesman for Northeastern said that the student “went through an extensive processing period before he came back to Boston, which means that overseas investigators investigate his family, they speak to employers, they do a very thorough investigation.”
Mohammad Dehghani’s experience is not an isolated occurrence. Since August 2019, at least 10 students have been sent back to Iran upon their arrival at US airports, the most recent of whom was deported on January 3, 2020. Seven of those 10 students had flown into Logan international airport in Boston, where some of them alleged serious infractions by CBP.
On December 13, 2019, Mohammad Elmi, a 31-year-old Iranian boarded a flight to Los Angeles to join his wife in the United States and start a PhD program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sixty-five hours later, he was back in the Iranian capital, Tehran, having been refused entry to the United States by immigration officers at the airport.
Last year, the Guardian Newspaper reported US authorities were increasingly stopping Iranian students from boarding US-bound flights without informing them that their visas had been cancelled prior to travel. In recent months, however, a growing number of Iranians with valid student visas have been detained upon arrival at US airports by Customs and Border Protection and deported back to Iran. Some of them have been barred from returning to the United States for years.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide believes preventing students from entering this country on the basis of their countries of origin is a major step toward implementing odious racial and religious profiling. We believe that denying students’ entrance on the grounds of baseless accusations will harm to the United States’ higher education system.