A Palestinian Harvard student claims that he has been denied entry into the US because his friends had posted anti-American statements on social media.
Ismail Ajjawi, 17, who is due to begin his studies at the prestigious university next Tuesday, said he was detained when he arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Friday night.
Mr. Ajjawai told the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, that immigration officers subjected him to hours of questioning and demanded access to his phone and computer.
Mr. Ajjawai, who lives in Lebanon, said he was asked about his religious beliefs and practices before officers trawled through his technology devices.
The teenager said that after five hours an officer called him into a room and “started screaming” at him. “She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list,” he said.
Mr. Ajjawi said he stressed to the officer that he had not made any political posts himself and that he should not be held responsible for others’ posts.
“I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics,” he added.
However, he claimed that the officer canceled his visa and informed him that he would be deported back to Lebanon.
A spokesman for Harvard University told The Telegraph that the university is working closely with Mr. Ajjawi’s family “and appropriate authorities to resolve this matter so that he can join his classmates in the coming days”.
US immigration officials have refused to divulge the specifics of Mr. Ajjawi’s case or why he was denied entry into the country but confirmed that the Customs and Border Protection agency found him “inadmissible”.
“Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the US by overcoming all grounds of inadmissibility including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds,” a spokesman for the CBP told the Crimson in a statement.
“This individual was deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection.”
Mr. Ajjawi, who was granted a scholarship by the Washington-based Amideast non-profit organization, said that he is receiving assistance from an immigration lawyer and hopes to resolve his visa issues in time for the start of classes next week.