Palestinian Harvard student barred entry into U.S.

“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.”

By
August 28, 2019 14:41
1 minute read.
A seal hangs over a building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

A seal hangs over a building at Harvard University . (photo credit: Reuters)

A 17-year-old Palestinian Harvard freshman was denied entry into the United States on Tuesday, with immigration officers questioning him for hours before cancelling his visa, according to Harvard University newspaper The Crimson.

A resident of Tyre, Lebanon, Ismail B. Ajjawi says he was subjected to interrogations and had his laptop and cellphone searched for five hours before being challenged regarding social media posts made by friends that were deemed by the officials as anti-American.

“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,” he wrote, according to The Crimson. “I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics.”

The immigration officer then decided to cancel his visa and Ajjawi was denied entry into the country.

"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," wrote US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael S. McCarthy in a letter to Harvard. "This individual was deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection.”

The State Department told The Crimson that it is unable to comment specifically on this case due to confidentiality laws regarding US visas.

Ajjawi says he was held in Boston airport for eight hours until he was sent back to Lebanon.

The young man, who had grown up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, made headlines in his country at just 14 for receiving one of the highest scores in Lebanon on his primary school exams, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. He had been granted a full scholarship to Harvard.

Harvard and AMIDEAST, the non-profit organization that awarded him the scholarship to study in the US, are both working to assist the student to enter the country.



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