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What Is Happening To International Arrivals At Our National Airports?

July 12, 2017

Several weeks ago over lunch I heard the story of a Vietnamese women who was stopped at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. She had flown in from overseas and her visa, along with papers, was in order.   For a couple of years she had been dating an American with Wisconsin roots. But after arriving that last time, for some unknown reason, her phone was taken and it was there text messages were found which showed her love for her partner. It was feared, she was told by officials, that the potential of her relationship would tempt her to stay in the country and not return to Vietnam.

As such she was not allowed into the country and returned to her native land.

Which leads us to the news this week that an Iranian cancer researcher traveling to Massachusetts to work at Boston Children’s Hospital was detained at Logan International Airport along with his wife and children for several hours before being sent back.

The detention of Dr. Mohsen Dehnavi, who holds a visiting work visa, comes two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could partially enforce an executive order banning people from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from entering the United States. But US Customs and Border Protection said that the detention and return were unrelated to the order.

It has been impossible to get more information about the lack of entry for a cancer specialist as the government will not say why he was being deported.  There is no doubt that actions are being taken by the Trump administration to restrict travel from the six countries that have been the focal point from the start of this administration.  It should be noted, according to The Economist that issuances to Iranians, the largest affected group, are down as a result.

Let us be clear about the shameful actions that our government has taken in the past months.

When Trump’s initial travel ban was put in place in January, some foreign researchers from the affected countries were prevented from traveling to work in the U.S. Samira Asgari, an Iranian postdoctoral fellow who was slated to join a lab in Boston, wasn’t allowed to board her flight in January. Another Iranian scientist, Seyed Soheil Saeedi Saravi, had his visa suspended just days before his was set to travel to the U.S. for a research fellowship at Harvard.

If the people at DHS and ICE were not such awful, authoritarian morons it would be easier to accept that these decisions were based on actual risk. But they aren’t. They are pure partisan politics and now we see scientists and researchers being targeted.

America, once again, looks smaller.

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