Ismail B. Ajjawi, an incoming freshman at Harvard University, was deported after U. S. Customs and Border Protection revoked his visa hours after arriving at Boston Logan International Airport, according to The Harvard Crimson.
Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Tyre, Lebanon, spent hours speaking with immigration officers before his visa was revoked.
During the questioning, Ajjawi says officers searched his phone and computer “for roughly five hours.”
According to Ajjawi, his visa was canceled by the immigration officers over concerns about political posts from his friends on social media.
“When I asked every time to have my phone back so I could tell them about the situation, the officer refused and told me to sit back in [my] position and not move at all,” Ajjawi wrote in a statement. “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.
“I responded that I have no business with such posts and that I didn’t like, [s]hare or comment on them and told her that I shouldn’t be held responsible for what others post. I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics.”
Unfortunately, that was all it took for Ajjawi to have his visa canceled.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael S. McCarthy said that during their inspection the student “deemed inadmissible to the United States.”
Harvard officials are currently working with authorities in hope of resolving the issue before classes begin on September 3. The university is also providing help from immigration lawyers at the Office of the General Counsel and Harvard International Office. AMIDEAST, a non-profit organization that awarded him a scholarship to study in the United States, is also providing legal assistance.
“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,” Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain said in a statement.