Northeastern officials seeking answers about Iranian student who was removed from the United States

In this Feb. 1, 2019, file photo, a Delta Airlines jetliner taxis at Logan International Airport in Boston. AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File

A Northeastern student who is an Iranian citizen was removed from the United States on Monday night, and as of Wednesday morning, university officials still “have not received a satisfactory explanation from Customs and Border Protection,” said Jigisha Patel, associate general counsel and chief advisor for International and Immigration Services at Northeastern.

Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, who was returning to Northeastern to continue working toward a bachelor of science degree in economics and mathematics, had a valid F-1 student visa. He was detained by the federal Customs and Border Protection agency at Logan International Airport Sunday, and removed from the country Monday.

Lawyers for Hossein Abadi filed an emergency petition to block his removal Monday night, Patel said. A U.S. District judge had ordered a 48-hour stay, but Hossein Abadi was flown to France despite the order. At a scheduled hearing Tuesday morning, another judge said the case was moot, since the student was already out of the country, Patel said.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts office of Customs and Border Protection did not respond to questions from a News@Northeastern reporter.

Patel said the university’s legal team has been in regular contact with Hossein Abadi’s lawyers, and has been trying to get in touch with the student as well.

Nearly 13,000 international students are currently enrolled at Northeastern, including 139 students from Iran, according to information from the Office of Global Services. 

“Northeastern welcomes thousands of international students and supports them with an array of resources,” said Renata Nyul, vice president for communications at Northeastern. 

The university is “working closely with key members of our congressional delegation to ask them to weigh in with CBP officials, in hopes that the agency will reconsider the [removal] motion, so the student can resume his studies in a timely manner,” Nyul said. 

Those elected officials include U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Joseph Kennedy III, all of whom have already made statements in support of Hossein Abadi.  

On Tuesday night, a protest on Centennial Common on Northeastern’s Boston campus drew roughly 100 students who decried the removal of their classmate. Some of those present asserted that the university hadn’t doing enough to support Hossein Abadi.

Students on Centennial Common protest the removal of Northeastern student Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

University officials said they were pressing Customs and Border Protection for more information. 

“We believe that a clear explanation is needed, especially because the deportation took place after a 48-hour extension was granted by a federal judge,” Nyul said. “Only in the most extreme instances should students have their academic pursuits interrupted by government intervention.” 

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