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Northeastern student from Iran removed from US before court hearing, won’t be returned

But before that hearing took place, Hossein Abadi was flown to France, one of his lawyers, Susan Church, said Tuesday.

Kerry Doyle, one of Hossein Abadi’s lawyers, called his removal “an outrage.”

At the scheduled hearing Tuesday morning, Judge Richard Stearns said the case was now moot, since the student was already out of the country.

“There seems to be some history of CBP ignoring district court orders, which should concern the court,” Doyle said during the hearing. She asked that Hossein Abadi be returned to the US, but the judge said there was little he could do now that the student was gone.

“I don’t think they’re going to listen to me,” Stearns said.

Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said Hossein Abadi had been put on an Air France flight out of Logan late Monday night. It was not immediately clear why he Hossein Abadi was removed in spite of the judge’s emergency order that he be detained here and brought to court Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Hossein Abadi detainment drew more than 50 protesters to the international arrivals gate at the airport to call for his release. Some chanted “Let Shahab in,” and “Stop deporting students.”

The courtroom was also packed Tuesday with students and members of the local Iranian-American community who were there to support Hossein Abadi.

But Hossein Abadi was already in Paris, according to his lawyers, who said they had not been permitted to speak with him before he took off on an Air France flight late Monday. It was not immediately clear why he was sent away after the emergency order had already been issued.

Customs and Border Protection indicated to Hossein Abadi’s lawyers that he had been denied entry into the country because he intended to overstay his student visa, according to Doyle. She denied that Hossein Abadi planned to remain in the U.S. long-term, noting that he has no family here.

In a statement, Northeastern said it was aware of Hossein Abadi situation and had reached out to federal officials for more information “and to provide our student with the appropriate assistance to facilitate a successful return to Northeastern.”

“He went through an extensive processing period before he came back, which means that overseas investigators investigate his family, they speak to employers, they do a very thorough investigation,” Church said Monday.

A spokesman for the agency said he could not discuss a specific case because of privacy laws but provided a statement about the agency’s work.

“CBP officers are charged with enforcing not only immigration and customs laws, but they also enforce over 400 laws for 40 other agencies and have stopped thousands of violators of U.S. law,” he said in an e-mail.

According to the legal filing, Hossein Abadi was admitted to Northeastern for the 2018-2019 academic year and submitted his visa application in 2018. After a background check that took nearly a year, the State Department issued Hossein Abadi a student visa last week, the petition says.

Hossein Abadi was previously a student at UMass Boston from spring 2016 through fall 2017, according to the university. At Northeastern he was set to study economics as an undergraduate.

Hossein Abadi “does not pose any threat of terrorist activity and has no criminal record in any country,” the filing states. “It is unclear why [Customs and Border Protection] would now decide, after conducting a full visa issuance process, that Plaintiff’s student visa should be revoked.”

Rose said the ACLU is seeing more cases where students, particularly coming from Iran, are being stopped at Logan Airport. It is unclear if this signals some sort of changed US policy on Iranians, or the action of a specific customs agent, Rose said.

“Think of the implications of this on a center of education like Massachusetts,” Rose said. International students are unlikely to want to study here. “This is bad for our economy.”


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.



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