An incoming Harvard freshman from Palestine was reportedly interrogated for five scrupulous hours by immigration officials, after which his visa was withdrawn after landing in Boston because his friends had shared anti-American political posts on social media.
Ismail B. Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian student living in Tire, Lebanon, landed at Boston Logan International Airport Friday night awaiting his freshman year at Harvard University.
But his Ivy League career, in which he planned to study chemical and physical biology, ended before it even began when his visa was revoked and he was deported home.
Ajjawi said that after landing, immigration officers interviewed him for hours and searched his phone and computer, and confronted him about the social media messages from his friends who shared their political views against the US, he told school newspaper Harvard Crimson.
Incoming Harvard University freshman Ismail B. Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian refugee living in Lebanon, his visa was withdrawn hours after landing in the US Friday night
Ajjawi says he spent a total of eight hours in Boston, the closest airport to the University of Cambridge, Massachusetts, before being forced to leave.
After the landing, he and several other international students were confronted with questions from immigration officials. But Ajjawi was stopped while his colleagues were allowed to go.
He claims that an immigration officer kept asking him questions about his religion and religious practices in Lebanon. That officer then asked the student to unlock his phone and laptop and searched for them for five hours, Ajjawi claims.
The officer then asked him about his friends' social media activity and said she had found reports of political views against the US.
& # 39; Every time I asked to have my phone back so that I could tell them about the situation, the officer refused and told me to sit back in [my] position and not move at all, & # 39; Ajjawi said.
& # 39; After those 5 hours, she called me into a room and started yelling at me. She said she found people on my list of friends who post political views against the US, & he added.
Ajjawi replied that the political functions were not his.
& # 39; I have responded that I have nothing to do with such messages and that I did not like, pay attention to, or respond and said that I should not be held responsible for what others post & he said.
& # 39; I have no posts on my timeline about politics, & # 39; he added.
Despite his defense, the immigration officer canceled Ajjawi's visa and told him he would be deported. Ajjawi was allowed to call his parents before returning to Lebanon.
Ajjawi is now in Lebanon and has contact with a lawyer and the university in the hope of resolving his visa before the classes start on Tuesday 3 September.
Harvard says they are in contact with the family and are working to bring him back to the campus.
& # 39; The university is working closely with the student's family and the appropriate authorities to resolve this issue so that they can join their classmates in the coming days & # 39 ;, said a university spokesperson.
Harvard & # 39; s International Office employs immigration lawyers who deal with visa-related issues encountered by international students. Ajjawi says he has been in contact with Harvard International Office Director of Immigration Services Maureen Martin.
He came to Harvard for a scholarship from AMIDEAST, a non-profit organization that now assists him with legal assistance.
Ajjawi says he was detained at Boston Logon International Airport for eight hours and reportedly interrogated for five hours before immigration officers revoked his visa and deported him
His deportation has caused indignation with his friends.
& # 39; Putting him back is of course an unfair act, he is a very smart student and it is not appropriate to deal with him like that, "Ajahawi & # 39; s friend Selah Chehade told DailyMail.com.
The revoked Ajjawi visa comes after the smart student was flagged on a local Alaraby Entertainment news site about his success story, from refugee in Lebanon to reaching the coveted Ivy League school with a full scholarship.
& # 39; This was always my goal; I did everything with this goal in mind, including wisely managing my time and studying as much as possible, & Ajjawi said in the news video.
& # 39; My plan is to become a doctor. I study major in chemical and physical biology at Harvard, as a pre-med student, and then I go to medical school, & he added.
& # 39; My success, that of a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, shows that Palestinians can deliver high performance and succeed despite their circumstances. & # 39;
His father was also included in that news cast, which proudly expressed the success of his son and said: & # 39; This was a very happy moment for us, that all his hard work paid off. Despite the severe hardships that the Palestinian people are facing, we are achieving great success. & # 39;
& # 39; I am so proud of him and if God wants to, he will be a good representative and an example for Palestinians abroad. & # 39;
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