A 17-year old Palestinian set to begin classes at Harvard University was denied entry into the United States, had his visa revoked, and was deported after he was allegedly questioned by immigration officers for hours.
Ismail B. Ajjawi, a resident of Lebanon, arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport on August 23. According to a written statement he released, Ajjawi was interrogated at the airport for hours. Other international students were also questioned, but they were allowed to leave after a certain period of time while Ajjawi was repeatedly questioned about his religion. He was also forced to hand over his laptop and phone so they could be searched. Ajjawi claims that he’s never made political posts on social media, but was questioned about the political posts of his friends.
“When I asked every time to have my phone back so I could tell [someone] about the situation, the officer refused and told me to sit back in [my] position and not move at all,” he wrote, “After the 5 hours ended, she called me into a room , and she started screaming at me. She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list.”
The Harvard Crimson reports that four graduate students endured similar problems in 2017 as a result of the Trump administration’s travel ban. Although visa records must remain confidential under U.S. law, U. S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael S. McCarthy sent an emailed statement to the paper. “Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the U.S. by overcoming ALL grounds of inadmissibility including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds,” he wrote, “This individual was deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection.”
This news comes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barred Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) from entering Israel over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Many believe that Netanyahu made the decision under pressure from the Trump administration.
Ajjawi is currently back in Lebanon trying to resolve the issue before the semester begins. A university official told the school paper, “The University is working closely with the student’s family and appropriate authorities to resolve this matter so that he can join his classmates in the coming days.”