An Iranian student was turned away from Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday, prompting protests over the latest in a growing number of cases of international students blocked from entering the U.S. amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Iran, reports the New York Times. Shahab Dehghani, 24, who was planning to study economics at Northeastern University, arrived on Sunday night with a valid student visa but was held at the airport overnight for questioning and put on a plane to Iran. His flight left his lawyers obtained a court order directing immigration authorities to allow Dehghani to remain in the country for 48 hours while his case was reviewed. A federal judge declared the issue moot in an emergency hearing on Tuesday. Dehghani is one of at least 13 Iranian students who have been turned away since August at airports across the U.S. despite having valid visas.
Immigrant rights advocates and federal politicians say the students are being unfairly treated because of their heritage. “There’s a lot of reason for concern,” said Omar Jadwat of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “We’ve seen before periods where people are unfairly subjected to additional scrutiny or denied entry for reasons that have nothing to do with the people themselves but everything to do with generalized suspicion or frankly prejudice against people from particular countries or regions of the world.” Customs and Border Protection officials says immigrants with valid visas can be denied entry based on information that prompts concerns. An official familiar with Dehghani’s case said there was evidence Dehghani had immediate family members affiliated with a company that had been subject to U.S. sanctions for providing weapons to Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim organization that the U.S. considers a terrorist group.