An Iranian cancer researcher is being detained at Boston’s Logan International Airport despite having a visa to work in the United States, Stat News reported Tuesday.
Mohsen Dehnavi, who traveled with his wife and three children, was scheduled to conduct research at Boston Children’s Hospital as a visiting scholar. But when he arrived at the airport last night, he was told that he might have to return to Iran to fill out additional paperwork before being permitted into the U.S.
In a Facebook post, Dehnavi’s friend and coworker, Mohammad Rashidian, urgently called on lawyers and legals organizations to provide support for the family who he said could be, “deported at any moment.” Boston Children’s Hospital is also providing its support and looking for ways to provide officials with evidence of Dehnavi’s professional experience.
Dehnavi’s detention comes two weeks after President Donald Trump's travel ban was partially reinstated due to a Supreme Court ruling which backed the order’s core stipulations. The court stated that travelers from six countries, including Iran, were not allowed in the country unless they could provide, “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
Dehnavi’s research at Boston Children’s Hospital would seem to fit squarely into that definition, so it is uncertain why his J-1 Visa, which is used for people entering into the country for research purposes, has been deemed invalid.
When asked about the circumstances surrounding Dehnavi’s detention, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it was unable to comment on individual cases but said that the reason for the family’s removal was unrelated to the recent executive order, according to the Boston Globe.
Since the recent travel ban, lawyers have been puzzled with how exactly to interpret its complex ramifications. The State Department is defining the order narrowly, saying that the credible claim of a relationship defined in court refers to family members only.
The Guardian notes that the majority of individuals who have been targeted by the travel ban are highly educated scholars and professors who often participate in groundbreaking research.
So, those individuals who contribute the most to our country’s welfare and ingenuity seem to be the ones who are most often disregarded as somehow dangerous by the Trump administration.