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CBS News reports that a student’s plans to attend Harvard University folded after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at Boston Logan International Airport turned him away.
While most Harvard freshmen settle into their dorms Tuesday, one new student, Ismail B. Ajjawi ’23, faces ongoing negotiations with immigration officers to allow him to enter the United States and study at the College. https://t.co/pUtGDQ7tyN
— The Harvard Crimson (@thecrimson) August 27, 2019
The Harvard Crimson student newspaper first reported the decision to reject Ismail Ajjawi’s entrance into the U.S. The 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Lebanon said a U.S. official asked him about his religious practices and searched his laptop and cellphone for five hours before questioning him about his friends’ social media activity.
“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,” Ajjawi wrote, according to the Crimson.
Meanwhile, Ajjawi tells the paper that he has “no single post on my timeline discussing politics.”
“I responded that I have no business with such posts and that didn’t like, share or comment on them and told her that I shouldn’t be held responsible for what others post,” Ajjawi wrote, according to the Crimson.
Eight hours after Ajjawi arrived at the airport, just a few miles from the campus, he was sent back to Lebanon.
In a statement to CBS News, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirm that Ajjawi was “deemed inadmissible” by an officer.
“Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the U.S. by overcoming all grounds of inadmissibility including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds,” the agency said.
Ajjawi’s deportation comes as a shock considering he was not proven to have committed any crimes or here illegally. The fact that it was the actions of his unnamed roommate also throws in the question of freedom of speech—especially on social media where almost anything can be said. Ajjawi’s situation just exhibits the countless ways that people of color are being restricted from spaces they’ve rightfully earned.
A spokesperson for Harvard said the university still hopes Ajjawi will be attending classes this fall.
“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,” the spokesperson said.