Iranian attending college in Boston is denied entry to US

January 21, 2020 - 11:05 am

BOSTON (AP) — An Iranian student attending college in Boston was denied entry to the U.S. and ordered to immediately fly back to his native country, despite a court order temporarily staying his removal, immigration lawyers and civil rights groups said Tuesday.

Shahab Dehghani, a student at Northeastern University, arrived on a flight into Boston on Monday with a valid student visa but was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at Logan International Airport, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which is among the groups representing him.

The organization said customs officials insisted Dehghani, whose full name is listed as Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein on federal court filings, leave on the next available flight.

Dehghani's attorneys filed an emergency lawsuit Monday night seeking to hold off his removal, which a federal judge approved, pending a court hearing Tuesday.

But Judge Richard Stearns on Tuesday said the case was moot and out of his jurisdiction since Dehghani had taken a flight out of the country that night.

Dehghani's attorneys confirmed he had taken a flight to Paris but disputed the judge's assertion.

They also disputed federal prosecutors who argued that Dehghani was removed from the country before the emergency order was issued Monday night.

Kerry Doyle, one of Dehghani's lawyers, argued in court that he had not boarded his flight when the order was issued.

She and other supporters said after the brief hearing that they are weighing their legal options.

Doyle and others also said customs officials in Boston have a “pattern” of ignoring court orders, citing other recent cases of people from Middle Eastern countries denied entry at Logan since President Donald Trump issued a ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries in 2017.

Northeastern University said it has been in touch with federal officials to try to help Dehghani.

“Northeastern welcomes thousands of international students and supports them with an array of resources,” the university said in a statement. "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.”


Associated Press Education Writer Collin Binkley contributed to this report.

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