U.S. border security authorities harassing Iranians

27 January 2020 | 00:00 Code : 10756 Events


January 26, 2020 - 20:11

TEHRAN - Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Saturday censured the United States as the country’s border security officials are “harassing” Iranians.

Mousavi said such behaviors are instances of “sheer racism” and “violation of international human rights laws and norms”.

“The US border security authorities are reportedly harassing Iranians due to their nationality. That's sheer racism in violation of intl human rights laws and norms and yet another testament to this Administration’s evil obsession with IRAN and its deep animosity to IRANIANS!” Mousavi tweeted.

Reportedly, a growing number of Iranian students are being detained, interrogated and deported by authorities upon arrival at the U.S. airports.

In a report on Thursday, The New York Times said, “A growing number of Iranian students share this collective memory. Many had secured admission to some of the world’s most prestigious universities. The State Department approved them for entry into the United States after a notoriously grueling, months long vetting process and issued them visas to come to the United States.”

“But when the students reached American airports, Customs and Border Protection officers disagreed and sent them home, some with a five-year ban on reapplying to return to the United States,” the report added.

According to the paper, since August, at least 16 Iranian students have been turned away at airports, losing their chances to study at prestigious universities, amid new tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Shahab Dehghani, an Iranian student, who was planning to study economics at Northeastern University, arrived in Boston on January 19 with a valid student visa but was held at the airport overnight for questioning and put back on a plane to Iran the next evening.

Following is an excerpt of The New York Times’ report:

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

A flight back to Iran was not available for a couple of days, so Amin said he was placed in a chilly holding cell for six hours, then transported in cuffs and chains to an immigration detention facility in Georgia. The officers there ordered him to strip naked in front of them.

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

After Mohammad was told that his visa was going to be revoked, the officers took a picture of him, for their records. Then, he says, they laughed. “I looked as despondent in the photo as I felt and they found it very funny. I felt demeaned and humiliated,” he said.

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.

Hamid, who had been accepted for a fully-funded graduate program, waited eight months for his visa. Then when he arrived in Chicago, he was placed in a holding cell for 19 hours.

Officers asked him for his opinion on political events in Iran and whether he thought Iran was doing “the right thing.” He was asked what he thought about the Ukrainian jet that had been shot down three days earlier by two Iranian missiles. Hamid told the officer he had a friend who died on the plane.

Hamid said he and two other detained travelers were given foam mattresses and thin blankets, and he hardly slept.

“After 24 hours, I was transferred to the boarding gate in the company of two armed officers, as if I was some kind of terrorist. It was both humiliating and dehumanizing,” he said.

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

The officers’ questions were simple at first, Reihana said: “Where did you work?” “Who are your relatives?” But then the conversation turned to unfamiliar territory.

During the nine hours she was questioned, she said, she asked if she could rest, because she had been traveling for 18 hours. But the officer told her that lots of travelers had done the same, and a Harvard student “should be clever enough to handle” it.

“Now I am jobless,” she said, adding that she and her family were still struggling to believe what happened. “It was like a shock and trauma for everybody.”

Courtesy of Tehran Times.

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