US immigration officials on Monday deported an Iranian student headed to a Boston university despite efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other advocates to block the removal.
The deportation of Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, a 24-year-old Iranian citizen enrolled at Northeastern University, comes after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced an “enhanced security posture” amid heightened tensions with Iran.
The case had raised new questions about the fair treatment of Iranians by immigration authorities under the administration of US President Donald Trump. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, called on CBP to halt Abadi’s deportation on Monday night and pledged to fight Trump’s “xenophobic policies”.
Boston-based lawyer Kerry Doyle, who took on the case along with lawyers 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, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the US.
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.