Iranian students with valid visas sent home upon arrival at US airports

United state have reportedly  sent home Iranian students upon arrival at American airports since last August.

According to aljazeera reports, since August, at least 17 Iranian students have had their dream of studying in the US dashed after landing in US airports with valid visas in hand. They were instead sent home and most were given five-year bans on returning to the US, after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers deemed them “inadmissible

Immigration lawyers claimed the deportation began last year but it escalated in recent weeks amid high political tensions between the US and Iran, after President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3.

According to source, Last September, Reihana Emami Arandi boarded a flight from Tehran and made her way to Logan airport Boston, eager to study theology at an Ivy League university.

Other Iranian students that have been ‘deported’ back to their country since August 2019 are Abadi, Alireza Yazdani, Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, Mohamad Elmi, and Mahla Shahkhajeh among others.

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Reihana Emami Arandi was promptly pulled aside by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers for additional questioning.

They led her to a separate area of the airport, where an officer inquired about her travels, her work experience, her family, her studies and what her cellphone number was in Iran, she said. The officer searched her luggage, pulled out her Quran and asked what it was.

“He then asked me what Iranian people think about the explosion in Saudi Arabia,” she said, referring to the Sept. 14 drone strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility for which the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen claimed responsibility.

“I explained I didn’t know much and that people generally hoped the situation would get better.”

Afterwards, she says officers took her laptop and mobile phones and asked her to give them her passwords, which she did.

She could not fully understand, fingerprinting and having her picture taken – she was on a flight back to Iran. She said during the entire time her requests to contact her family and university officials were denied.

“I went through one of the worst experiences of my life,” she said. “It was truly traumatic.”

According to Reihana, the customs officers deemed she had “immigrant intent”, or planned to overstay her student visa and live in the US – an accusation she said is “completely false”.

In a letter addressed to the US State Department, Maureen Martin, director of Immigration Service in the Harvard International Office that she called CBP at Logan Airport in the evening that Reihana was due to arrive to inquire about her whereabouts and avoid that she be subject to a five-year ban.

One of the top students in his class the University of Tehran, Amin landed in Georgia on Jan. 1 with hopes of earning his Ph.D. at the University of Florida. But when he reached the airport in Atlanta, officers questioned why he had not disclosed an old school email address or one of the research papers he’d written on his visa application.

Amin, 34, began to shake and cry when he learned he had been found “inadmissible.” That’s when his “three-day nightmare” began, he said.

An officer told him he had to return to Iran on the same flight he arrived on. That flight would not be available for two days, he recalled the officer saying — and he couldn’t be held at the airport for more than 24 hours. Amin said officers put him in a holding cell for six hours before cuffing him and moving him in chains to a detention facility in Georgia.

 

Another Iranian student, Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, was denied entry to the U.S. earlier this month despite previously having studied at Northeastern University for two semesters. He had traveled to Iran to visit his family, his attorney said.

Dehghani, 23, was placed on a flight from Boston to France despite a judge’s order that his removal be stayed for 48 hours or until further order from the court.

On Monday, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Ed Markey filed two civil rights complaints with the Department of Homeland Security, one on behalf of Reihana and a second on behalf of Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, requesting that the “legally flawed expedited removal” of the two students be investigated.

“This number is alarming,” said Ali Rahnama, an attorney with the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, which has been tracking the cases.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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