Harvard Freshman Denied Entry to US, Deported

He says officer disapproved of his friends' online posts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2019 3:14 AM CDT
Updated Aug 28, 2019 6:47 AM CDT
Harvard Freshman Denied Entry to US, Deported
The Widener Library in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

On Friday, Palestinian teenager Ismail Ajjawi arrived in Boston on his way to start his freshman year at Harvard. Eight hours later, he was kicked out of the country. The 17-year-old, who lives in Lebanon, says his visa was canceled and he was deported after an immigration officer disapproved of some of his friends' comments on social media. Ajjawi, who received a scholarship from a nonprofit group, tells the Harvard Crimson that during more than five hours of questioning, he was repeatedly asked about his religion. He says an officer asked him to unlock his phone and laptop and took them away for hours. He says she returned and started "screaming" at him about people on his friends list "posting political points of view that oppose the US."

"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," Ajjawi writes to the Crimson. "I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics." Ajjawi says he was told he would be allowed to call his parents before he was deported. A US Customs and Border Protection agency official says Ajjawi was deemed "inadmissible" based on information discovered during the inspection. The teen says he has contacted a lawyer and hopes he will be allowed into the US in time to begin classes next week. "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," university spokesperson Jason Newton tells NBC. (More Harvard stories.)

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