FNA – Two college students from Iran on Monday filed civil rights complaints with the US Department of Homeland Security, saying they were mistreated and illegally denied entry into the country by federal officials at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Incoming Harvard University student Reihana Emami Arandi and Northeastern University student Shahab Dehghani have filed separate complaints with the DHS civil rights office, The Associated Press reported.
The students stated that they were detained and interrogated for hours by federal officials who concluded they intended to overstay their temporary visas, which both denied.
An attorney for Dehghani argued in a complaint filed Monday that he had already been admitted to the US three times and that he received his most recent student visa after months of vetting by the State Department.
“This entire situation is unacceptable and was handled in an utterly unprofessional manner,” the complaint concluded, saying Dehghani was subjected to a “threatening” interrogation that emphasized his religious and political beliefs.
It added that “this behavior by members of Customs and Border Protection cannot stand”.
Arandi noted that during her eight-hour detention, officers searched her luggage and personal devices and did not allow her to make any calls, nor did they allow her to withdraw her petition to enter the country and reapply, essentially banning her from entering the country for another five years.
Spokespeople for Homeland Security didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. Customs and Border Protection declined to comment.
Scores of Iranian students with valid visas in hand have been forced to turn back on flights after landing in the United States in recent months as Washington continues to increase pressures on Iranians after economic sanctions failed to subdue Tehran.
Ali Rahnama, legislative counsel for the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, has claimed that at least 17 Iranian students have been deported from the US since August.
During interviews with CNN, several deported students and their attorneys detailed their experiences at US airports, describing what they said were hours of questioning that left them feeling exhausted and confused.
It’s not only Iranians who’ve been affected. Some students from other countries have also been turned back in recent months, Hartle stated, such as a group of Chinese students who were heading to Arizona State University in September. US-China relations have worsened during Trump’s presidency over several issues, including Iran’s Nuclear Deal which Washington, in May 2018, announced its withdrawal from, trade realation, and Uighur Muslims.
Tensions around Iran have been rising since Trump torpedoed the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sweeping sanctions targeting large swathes of Iran’s economy. Later, Washington raised the stakes in the standoff, sending additional military assets – including a carrier strike group, a bomber task force, and Patriot missiles – to countries bordering Iran. The conflict between Washington and Tehran hit record highs after an intruding American spy drone was shot down by the IRGC in Iranian sky.
The latest conflict which concerned several leaders in the Middle East and whole the world came in early January, when the US assassinated Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. The Pentagon’s operation brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war, with Tehran retaliating by launching missiles at military bases in Iraq housing American troops, wounding more than 60 American military servicemen and warning of further strikes against the Unted States. Iranian officials have branded the assassination an “act of international terrorism”.