Troubling claims are arising from Harvard, where an incoming 17-year-old Palestinian student named Ismail B. Ajjawi ’23 had his visa revoked shortly after he arrived in Boston Logan International Airport. According to a written statement from Ajjawi, U.S. officials interrogated him for several hours and searched his phone and computer before sending him back to Lebanon, where he traveled from.
“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, according to the Crimson Review. “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.”
“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,” he wrote. “I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics.”
Ajjawi says he and several other international students were all questioned upon their entry to the U.S., but he was the only one who had his visa revoked. Harvard officials say they are working with immigration officers to get the issue resolved.
“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,” University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain wrote in an email to the Crimson.
This isn’t the first time an incoming Harvard student has faced surprise hurdles.
Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow has corresponded with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan about what he called his “deep concern” about the Trump administration’s approach to immigration issues. In a letter to Pompeo and McAleenan, Bacow cited the uncertainty around rapidly shifting immigration policies as “driving anxiety and fear” on campus.
“Students report difficulties getting initial visas—from delays to denials,” Bacow wrote. “Scholars have experienced postponements and disruptions for what have previously been routine immigration processes such as family visas, renewals of status, or clearance for international travel.”
Ajjawi is currently in Lebanon. He tells The Crimson that he is speaking with a lawyer.