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Palestinian student booted out of U.S. last month arrives at Harvard

2019-09-09

An incoming Harvard University freshman who was turned away by immigration officials last week in a move that sparked international outrage arrived on campus Monday just in time for the first day of classes.

Ismail Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian who lives in Lebanon, was allowed back into the U.S. after officials reviewed his case at the urging of numerous student groups and nonprofit organizations — including AMIDEAST, which confirmed his arrival in a statement Monday.

“Ismail arrived at Boston Logan International Airport this afternoon, was admitted, and is now in Cambridge,” the group said.

The student told the university’s student newspaper last week that authorities quizzed him about his friends’ social media posts and then canceled his visa after an immigration official questioned him for hours.

“After the 5 hours ended, she called me into a room, and she started screaming at me," he told the Harvard Crimson in a statement. “She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list.”

Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told the Daily News in an email last week that the student was “deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection,” but he declined to offer details.

The move led to an online petition that garnered thousands of signatures and drew condemnation in and outside the U.S.

AMIDEAST on Monday thanked the university, the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon and other groups for helping Ajjawi have his visa reinstated.

“In addition, we express our gratitude to the many voices in the media and the public at large, both in the United States and abroad, who recognized the injustice of what happened to Ismail and voiced their concerns in traditional media and on social media,” the group’s statement reads.

The organization said Ajjawi was recognized “as one of the top students in Lebanon,” where he was enrolled in a “highly selective, rigorous program.”