by: Peyman Naeemi

U.S. to Continue Deporting Iranian Students

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 13:48

Besides imposing unfair and cruel sanctions on Iran which have negatively affected various classes in the society, in its most recent action, US authorities have begun deporting Iranian as well as Iranian-American students while they have legal visa.

An Iranian PhD student who'd planned to continue his studies at Michigan State University was detained by Customs and Border Protection at Detroit Metro Airport and is being sent back to Iran, his attorney Bradley Maze told CNN on Monday.

Maze said that Alireza Yazdani eager to continue his studies in an agricultural sciences doctoral program at Michigan State and was admitted to the program in September; also the US government issued him a student visa earlier this month.

Immigrant rights advocates have said they are concerned students are being targeted as tensions mount between the United States and Iran. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said last week that at least 10 students had been sent back to Iran upon arriving to US airports since August, with seven of them having flown into the Boston airport, CNN reports.

"We want international students to know we value and welcome them to our campus, and we are committed to global engagement, educating international students and collaborating with partners across the world in higher education efforts. MSU's international students make tremendous contributions to fueling discoveries and scholarship," spokeswoman Emily Gerkin Guerrant said in a statement. "Global leadership can only be maintained if talented people from across the globe are encouraged to come here to study and work."

Last week, Northeastern University student Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein's case in Boston drew widespread attention and criticism from immigrant rights advocates after he was removed from the United States despite a federal judge's order barring his removal.

Iran has condemned the "illegal and inhuman" treatment of its nationals by US border security officers after reports emerged of a student being deported despite having a valid visa, Aljazeera reported.

"Such absolutely discriminatory measures that only happen over people's race, nationality or religion are against international human rights laws and principles," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

"These individuals were questioned by America's border security over their political views and beliefs, and their social media accounts were forcefully entered," he said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said at least 10 Iranian students had been denied entry at US airports since August 2019, with seven of those denials occurring at Logan International Airport.

Most say they were not told why they were deemed “inadmissible” — a broad label that customs officers have wide discretion to apply. What the students do know is that, at a time of rising diplomatic tensions between the United States and Iran, their plans for the future seem to have evaporated.

According to a report released by the New York Times report, number of Iranian students were deported and sent back to Iran, for example:

“Mohammad, 30, was studying at Northeastern University. He was turned away at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Oct. 6.

“Amin, 34, entering a Ph.D. program at the University of Florida, was turned away Jan. 1 at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.

“Hamid, 22, entering a combined master’s and Ph.D. program in engineering at University of Notre Dame, was sent back Jan. 11 from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

“Reihana Emami, 35, planned to attend Harvard Divinity School. She was turned away Sept. 18 at Logan airport.

“Pegah, 28, was preparing to study for a master’s degree in business administration at Southern New Hampshire University. She was returned home on Aug. 1 from Logan airport.

“Mohammad Elmi, 31, was to begin a Ph.D. program at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was denied entry on Dec. 13 at Los Angeles International Airport.

“Arash, 30, accepted into a Ph.D. program in electrical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, was sent back along with his wife, Saba, 30, on Jan. 13 at Logan airport.

“Mahla Shahkhajeh, 26, was accepted into a Ph.D. program in industrial engineering at Iowa State University, but was turned away on Dec. 22 at Logan airport.

Previously, Adam Weinstein, a senior law and policy analyst with National Iranian American Council, said there are already fewer Iranian students coming to the US. Data from the US State Department shows a drop in the number of F-1 student visas issued to Iranians from a high of 3,280 in 2014 to 1,433 in 2018. So far this year, about 400 student visas have been issued, “These are top notch students who are conducting cutting edge research,” said Weinstein.

After inauguration in 2016, US President Donald Trump controversially pushed through a ban suspending issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to applicants from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

The Trump administration added seven other countries to a group of nations subject to travel restrictions, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, along with others in Africa and Asia, according to administration officials who have seen the list, Wall Street Journal reports.

Based on the report, the new restrictions would apply to travelers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The countries wouldn’t necessarily face blanket bans on travel to the U.S., but could have restrictions placed on specific types of visas, such as business or visitor visas, administration officials said.

Considering the contributions that Iranian students bring to the US, through their work in critical fields like technology, such racist actions could have serious cinsequesnces for both higher education and the future of diplomacy for generations. The other lasting effect of this phenomenon can be decreasing the amount of knowledge produced by these so-called the tomorrow scientists. The question is, how long this government is aiming to continue this wicked path?

Author: Peyman Naeemi. Editor in Chief at Iran Student Correspondents Association/ ISCA

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