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Iranian cancer researcher detained at airport, Boston hospital complains

By Reuters - Jul 11,2017 - Last updated at Jul 11,2017

BOSTON — US immigration officials have detained an Iranian cancer researcher who was headed to a prominent Boston hospital to work as a scholar, hospital officials said on Tuesday.

The detention of Moshen Dehnavi, along with his wife and three children, is apparently unrelated to President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travellers from six majority-Muslim countries, according to Boston Children’s Hospital and immigration law specialists. They noted that Dehnavi had a valid entry visa.

“He and his family are being detained at Logan [and] are supposed to be sent back to Iran later today,” said hospital spokesman Rob Graham, in a statement. “Boston Children’s hopes that this situation will be quickly resolved and Dr  Dehnavi and his family will be released and allowed to enter the US.”

Two weeks ago, the US Supreme Court upheld a revised version of Trump’s executive order banning travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, though the court excluded visitors with a “bona fide” family tie. The executive order itself did not apply to travellers with valid visas.

A spokesman for US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

“Based on what we know, it’s not travel-ban related. It’s probably something much more stupid than that,” said Susan Church, chair of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “The rules say if you have a valid visa you have to be let in.”

Dehnavi, and his spouse and children as young as seven months old, were detained late Monday, Church said in a phone interview.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had called for a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, a move he said was necessary to protect national security in the wake of attacks at home and abroad by Islamist extremists.

Opponents of the idea called it a violation of the US Constitution’s protections for free expression of religion.


Trump’s initial January version of the order, which also applied to Iraq, caused a weekend of chaos at US airports as travellers were turned away upon arriving on US soil and crowds of thousands of people turned out to protest the move.

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