Iranian cancer researcher detained in US 'unrelated to Trump travel ban'

2017-07-14 13:29
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Boston— An Iranian cancer researcher arriving in the US to start work at a prominent Boston hospital has been detained at Logan International Airport.

Boston Children's Hospital said in a statement Tuesday that Dr Mohsen Dehnavi was prevented from entering the country with his wife and three young children despite holding a J-1 visa for visiting scholars. They arrived at the airport on Monday.

Iranian Doctor detained at US airport

The hospital said the reasons for the detention were unclear and the family remained at the airport and could be sent back to Iran later on 11 July.

"Boston Children's hospital hopes that this situation will be quickly resolved and Dr Dehnavi and his family will be released and allowed to enter the US," hospital spokesperson Rob Graham said in the statement.

"The hospital is committed to doing its utmost to support Dr. Dehnavi and his family."

US Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson Stephanie Malin said the Dehnavis family's detention was for "reasons unrelated" to President Donald Trump's executive order on travellers from six predominantly Muslim countries. She said the stop was based on information discovered during the agency's review. She did not elaborate on this information.

But she noted that visa applicants "bear the burden of proof" to meet all requirements and can be denied entry for a range of reasons, including health-related issues, criminality or security concerns.

UPDATE: US issues new visa criteria for 6 banned countries 

The 'Trump travel ban' effect

The Supreme Court recently ruled the Trump administration could largely enforce its temporary ban on travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. But the court said the ban can't block people with a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

The Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the DC-based National Iranian American Council, which have both gotten involved in helping the Dehnavis, voiced concerns on 11 July - suggesting their detention might be a violation of the Supreme Court order.

"The family is very worried," said Shayan Modarres, a lawyer for the council. "If it is a minor paperwork issue, then something needs to be told to the family so they can resolve it."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Democrat  - told reporters he was waiting to hear more about the Dehnavis' circumstances but also suggested the case was an example of concerns with the travel ban.

"Many people, doctors and nurses and people who are students working in the world-class institutions that we have are going to be boxed out or left out of the country," he said

Things are looking up for others UPDATE: Afghan girls robotics team granted US visas as Trump intervenes 

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