Incoming Harvard Freshman Ismail B. Ajjawi Has Finally Begun Attending Classes After Being Detained by CBP
(ESPAÑOL) Ajjawi, a native of Lebanon, was initially deported from the Boston Logan International Airport. When he first arrived at the airport, he entered with a student visa to study at Harvard University. Ajjawi was detained by Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) officials at the airport, along with several other incoming university students, for many hours facing questioning by CBP officials.
Eventually, all the students but Ajjawi were released and allowed into the country. Ajjawi faced about five hours of questioning from CBP officials about his religion and religious practices back in Lebanon. The officers also searched through Ajjawi’s cell phone and laptop. Eventually, Ajjawi was led to a room where a CBP officer asked him about various posts from friends on his social media accounts. Many of those posts involved Ajjawi’s “friends” on social media being critical of the US government. The officer never allowed Ajjawi to see the post, but he also never commented or “liked” any of the posts. With this, he argued that he could not be held responsible for other’s posts.
At the end of the questioning, Ajjawi was told he would be deported back to Lebanon.
Upon arriving back in his country, Ajjawi contacted officials at Harvard University, who have immigration attorneys on staff to assist with international student visas. He also reached out to AMIDEAST, the local non-profit organization that provided him a scholarship to attend Harvard University.
When asked for comment, CBP spokesman Michael S. McCarthy stated that Ajjawi was found “inadmissible” into the US but would not further elaborate.
Eventually, the attorneys for Ajjawi and Harvard University were able to resolve the issues, and Ajjawi was ready to begin classes on September 3, 2019, at the beginning of the fall semester.