Palestinian student previously denied entry into the United States has begun classes at Harvard

A Palestinian freshman at Harvard is at the school and awaiting to begin classes after being denied entry into the United States earlier this month.

Ismail B. Ajjawi is a 17-year-old student who lives in Lebanon. He was set to begin classes at Harvard this fall, but was detained at Boston’s Logan International Airport on August 23. According to Ajjawi, he was questioned by immigration officers for hours about his religion and his electronic devices were searched by  Customs and Border Protection officers. Ajjawi also claims that he was confronted about political posts made by his friends on social media. After being interrogated, he was deported back to Lebanon.

After the incident, Harvard University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain put out a statement declaring that the school was working to get Ajjawi back to Massachusetts before classes began this week. Ajjawi’s family put out a statement thanking everyone who supported Ajjawi and helped safely return him to the school. They specifically cited the assistance they’ve received from AMIDEAST, the group that is sponsoring Ajjawi throughout his time at Harvard. “The last ten days have been difficult and anxiety filled, but we are most grateful for the thousands of messages of support and particularly the work of AMIDEAST,” says the statement, “We hope now that everyone can respect our and Ismail’s privacy and he can now simply focus on settling into College and his important class work.”

On his Twitter account, Ajjawi’s lawyer Albert Mokhiber wrote, “In my 35 years of practicing immigration law, the successful case of Ismail Ajjawi is one of the most rewarding.”

“The anxiety was beyond belief for everybody,” Mokhiber told the New York Times, “Thank God it all worked out. I told his dad, the hard part begins today, he’s at Harvard, and we had a little chuckle over that.”

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