Despite having traveled to the US on a valid visa, Iranian cancer researcher, Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi, was detained, along with his wife and three children, ages 6, 3 and 7 months, after landing at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday afternoon, just weeks after Donald Trump’s revised travel ban went into effect.
Dehnavi was coming to work as a visiting scholar at Boston Children’s Hospital, but he was not allowed to enter the country when he landed on Monday, and authorities were saying that he and his family would be sent home, according to Dehnavi’s friend, Mohammad Rashidian, who was scheduled to pick up the family at the airport and who later wrote about their ordeal on Facebook.
Dehnavi was traveling on a J-1 visa, according to the hospital—which, according to the State Department is a non-immigrant visa category for individuals approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs.
“An Iranian Harvard postdoc came to the Boston Logan airport today with his family. Now after 10h in the airport, the officer is telling me that they will not let them in and they need to go back to home (Iran),” Rashidian said on Facebook.
The hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, said in a statement that it had “limited information” about Dehnavi’s detention, but hoped that the “situation will be quickly resolved and that it was “committed to doing its utmost to support Dr. Dehnavi and his family.”
The detention comes just two weeks after the US Supreme Court lifted several lower court orders to allow a limited version of President Trump’s executive order barring citizens of six Muslim-majority nations from US entry to take effect.
“Despite the court rulings, clearly the spirit of the Muslim ban has survived,” President of the National Iranian American Council, Trita Parsi, told the Guardian.
Parsi noted that visas to Iranians had already dropped more than 52 percent from last year as a result of the Trump administration implementing the ban. “Much indicates now that unless Congress takes action,” Parsi added, “the ban will remain in place and continue to discriminate and tear families apart while doing nothing to make America safer.”