Mohsen Dehnavi, an Iranian cancer researcher who travelled to the US with his family on an active visa, was denied entry on Monday. He was detained at Boston’s Logan international airport after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers deemed him “inadmissible” to the US. He was put on a return flight shortly after 9pm on Tuesday.
Dehnavi was travelling to the US to work as a visiting scholar at Boston children’s hospital, which was affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
Dehnavi’s denial of entry to the US comes two weeks after Trump’s modified executive order for a travel ban came into force and banned entry to the US for people from six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. However, travelers with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the US are exempt from the ban, but different interpretations of the ban have led to arbitrary decisions made at airports or US embassies issuing visas.
According to Dehnavi’s brother, Dehnavi’s research is about treatment of cancer for children, and he had traveled to the US to continue his education at Harvard University and participate in a postdoc program.
In an emailed statement, made before Dehnavi’s family was put on a flight back to Iran, Boston children’s hospital said Dehnavi was traveling on a non-immigrant visa issued to highly skilled research scholars, professors and exchange visitors.
Iranians have expressed anger over the revised travel restrictions, with many Iranian Americans saying on Twitter that the measures would mostly affect their grandparents, posting images of their grandmothers and grandfathers using #GrandparentsNotTerrorists. The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, commented that the ban was a “shameful” act targeting Iranian grandmothers.
Our Verdict: Despite the court rulings, the spirit of the Muslim ban has been retained. Unless Congress takes action, the ban will remain in place and continue to discriminate and hinder people’s life.