Ismail B. Ajjawi was supposed to start his first semester at Harvard University this week. Instead, when the Palestinian student arrived at Boston Logan International Airport from his home in Lebanon, he was detained and interrogated by Customs and Border Protection agents for hours before officials revoked his visa and ordered him back to Lebanon.
This is according to the Harvard Crimson, the school's student paper. In an email, Ajjawi told the paper:
“When I asked every time to have my phone back so I could tell them about the situation, the officer refused and told me to sit back in [my] position and not move at all,” he wrote. “After the 5 hours ended, she called me into a room , and she started screaming at me. She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list.”
Ajjawi told the Crimson he didn't make any of those posts himself though, saying "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. I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics."
Though the State Department issues visas, CBP has authority to cancel them. In an email to the Washington Post, CBP spokesperson Michael McCarthy said,"Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the U.S. by overcoming all grounds of inadmissibility," concluding that, "This individual was deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection." Under Donald Trump, the administration has gone to great lengths to empower immigration enforcement agents to more quickly and easily deport immigrants. In this case, it was to punish an applicant not even for the exercise of his own free speech but that of others.
A university spokesperson told the Crimson, "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."
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Originally Appeared on GQ