Dozens of advocates are calling for the release of an Iranian national who was detained at Boston Logan International Airport after he landed to study at Northeastern University, attorneys and university officials said.
Shahab Dehghani, a 24-year-old economics student who transferred to Northeastern, landed at the airport Sunday night only to be detained overnight by immigration officials, said Susan Church, a Boston immigration attorney. He narrowly escaped being flown back to Iran after Church and Kerry Doyle, another immigration attorney, managed to got his deportation postponed until he could get a federal court hearing Tuesday morning.
“This is what they dreamed of, coming here to study. With one stroke of a pen, these officers are taking it away," said Church, who has represented other international students with immigration issues. "It’s wrong and it needs to stop.”
For at least three hours on Monday, dozens gathered outside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area chanting “stop deporting students” and “let him in!"
On Monday night, Doyle filed a federal lawsuit on Dehghani’s behalf asking a judge to stop his removal. She argues his detainment and removal, following him being granted a student visa, violates his due process and equal protection rights.
“It is unclear why defendants would now decide, after conducting a full visa issuance process, that plaintiff’s student visa should be revoked,” Doyle wrote in the lawsuit, referring to immigration officials as the defendants.
Dehghani attended UMass Boston before transferring to Northeastern, Church said. He had been in the United States for two years when he returned to Iran to visit family, advocates said. He re-applied for a student visa after being accepted to Northeastern.
The renewal process took nearly a year, but he received another student visa in 2019.
In a statement to MassLive, a Northeastern spokeswoman said the university was aware of a student who was denied entry into the country.
“Northeastern welcomes thousands of international students and supports them with an array of resources,” the statement reads. “We have been in touch with federal officials to learn more about this case and to provide our student with the appropriate assistance to facilitate a successful return to Northeastern.”
When asked about Dehghani’s detainment, a CBP spokesperson did not confirm or deny that he was in custody.
A CBP spokesperson said in an email statement that the agency is “not at liberty to discuss an individual’s processing due to the Privacy Act...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.”
As news of Dehghani’s detainment spread, attorneys joined the protesters in Logan.
“The fact that this is happening on Martin Luther King Day is simply shameful,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.
Rose said the detainment is concerning considering it’s not the first. She cited a report from the Guardian that states that at least 10 Iranian students have been sent back after arriving in U.S. airports since August. Seven of those 10 students had flown into Logan.
“Given the Trump administration’s xenophobic policies and Logan Airport’s troubling practice of sending students back to Iran, we are deeply concerned that Shahab was detained," Rose added. "The ACLU supports the attorneys Kerry Doyle and Susan Church in their emergency lawsuit and are working closely with them to ensure due process and justice for students with valid visas to come study in Massachusetts.“
Go to link