U.S. immigration officials has deported an Iranian student headed to a Boston university despite efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocates to block the removal.
The deportation of Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, a 24-year-old Iranian citizen enrolled at North-eastern University, comes after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced an “enhanced security posture” amid heightened tensions with Iran.
The case had raised new questions about fair treatment of Iranians by immigration authorities under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, called on CBP to halt Abadi’s deportation on Monday night and vowed to fight Trump’s “xenophobic policies.”
Boston-based attorney Kerry Doyle, who took on the case along with attorneys from two other private firms and the ACLU, said Abadi shared immigration paperwork electronically that showed he had been denied entry due to a concern that he would remain in the United States beyond the scope of his student visa.
An official with the Department of Homeland Security said that charge was a “catch all” reason used to deny entrants. The official, who requested anonymity to discuss the case, said border authorities were concerned that Abadi had immediate family members with business ties to Hezbollah, a heavily armed group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.
Doyle rejected that allegation and said a summary of Abadi’s interview with border authorities suggested confusion over his father’s identity.
“It appeared that there was someone with a similar name or there was some mix-up,” she said.
Boston-based U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs halted Abadi’s removal on Monday for 48 hours after an emergency petition filed by the ACLU. The DHS official said Abadi already had boarded a flight to leave the United States at that point.