Palestinian Harvard Freshman Denied Entry into US
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Palestinian resident of Tyre, Lebanon, Ismail Ajjawi, aged-17, class of 2023, was denied entry into the US by immigration agents on arrival at Boston’s Logan airport on August 23.
Subjected to about eight hours of abusive questioning, his cell phone and computer searched, he was deported after his visa was summarily revoked.
Facebook remarks by friends or others on his page were reportedly critical of US policies — truth-telling about its hostile imperial agenda considered unacceptable.
According to Harvard spokesman Johathan Swain, university officials are trying to resolve the issue before classes begin on September 3.
It’s possible but unlikely because of Trump’s hostility toward Muslims from the wrong countries, especially Iranians, Syrians, Yemenis and Palestinians.
Mondoweiss said “(o)ther international students were also questioned, but they were allowed to leave after a certain period of time while Ajjawi was repeatedly questioned about his religion,” adding:
He explained that he “never made political posts on social media, but was questioned about the political posts of his friends.”
By written statement, Ajjawi said the following:
“When I asked every time to have my phone back so I could tell (someone) about the situation, the officer refused and told me…not move at all,” adding:
“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.”
“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. I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics.”
According to US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael McCarthy:
“Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the US 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,” adding:
“This individual was deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection.”
Trump’s State Department declined to comment on Ajjawi’s mistreatment. US Customs and Border Protection found him “inadmissible” — for being Palestinian left unexplained.
According to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper, Ajjawi “has been in contact with (Harvard International Office) Director of Immigration Services Maureen Martin,” adding:
He “also contacted AMIDEAST, the non-profit organization that awarded him a (full) scholarship to study in the US, which is now providing him legal assistance.”
Speech, media and academic freedoms are increasingly imperiled in the US.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) earlier said Washington “consistently (doesn’t) recognize the protections afforded by the US Constitution and international law, and in doing so, it has failed in its responsibility to maintain a democratic society that is both open to, and accountable to, the people.”
Ajjawi was unacceptably held accountable for remarks made by others on his Facebook page.
Anyone can post comments about anything on social media pages of others, including views contrary to those held by the individual’s page posted on.
I’ve seen it occasionally on my Facebook page, most often supportive comments posted there. I ignore the others, symptomatic of public ignorance about key issues.
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education director Sarah McLaughlin said the following about what she called “(a)nother troubling denial at the border, this time for an incoming Harvard freshman,” adding:
These denials “threat(en) academic freedom and free expression on campus” — Ajjawi the latest victim, denied US entry “on the basis of speech” by others.
He’s “not the first (to be) denied (entry to the US) for viewpoint-based reasons. But his case is unusual in that he claims his visa was denied because of others’ political views.”
His case is “a prime example (of violating) core constitutional principles: first, that controversial views should not face governmental punishment, and second, that someone should not be punished for another person’s speech.”
Note: RT reported that visa applicants to the US must submit “five years’ worth of social media history,” along with “five years of telephone numbers, email addresses, and travel history.”
They’re also asked if any of their family members were involved in “terrorist activities.”
The US definition excludes its own state terrorism on a global scale — including use of ISIS and other jihadist groups as imperial foot soldiers.
A Final Comment
The Harvard Crimson said “in 2017, four graduate students faced similar challenges” because of Trump’s travel ban, adding:
“Those students eventually entered the US after weeks and months in limbo…”
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