Iranian Michigan State Ph.D. student, Alireza Yazdani, is currently held in detention by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, and is set to be deported back to Iran today at 4:10 p.m.
MSU Graduate Employees Union President, Kevin Bird, confirmed Yazdani's detention and said in a statement that Yazdani is being secured by two immigration lawyers aiming for a court-granted stay on the deportation.
At least 16 Iranian students have been turned away at airports since August, according to the New York Times.
According to a statement from one of his lawyers, Bradley Maze, Yazdani had a valid student visa and was vetted by the Department of State before the visa was issued in early January 2020.
MSU Spokesperson Emily Guerrant said via email that the university has been in contact with its Michigan congressional delegation, federal support agencies and Yazdani's lawyers in the past 24 hours.
"We want international students to know we value and welcome them to our campus, and we are committed to global engagement, educating international students and collaborating with partners across the world in higher education efforts," Guerrant said. "MSU’s international students make tremendous contributions to fueling discoveries and scholarship. Global leadership can only be maintained if talented people from across the globe are encouraged to come here to study and work."
Maze said Yazdani was admitted to a PhD program in the Agricultural Sciences Department at MSU in summer 2019 and then applied for an F-1 student-visa in September.
Yazdani was set to start classes this month, Guerrant said.
Wayne State's Graduate Employees Organizing Committee protested the deportation at the airport.
BBC correspondent Bahman Kalbasi reported via twitter that Yazdani was held in Monroe County Sheriff's Office & Jail overnight and is scheduled to be returned to DTW to board a Lufthansa flight at 4:10 p.m. to Frankfurt, Germany then to Iran.
Yazdani's flight has departed, according to flightaware.com.
Maze said it appears the student was deemed inadmissible for spurious reasons and may have been convinced or pressured to give up his rights and sign an order withdrawing his application for admission.
However, there may be no legal fight to stop his removal scheduled for this afternoon.
"We think it is an abhorrent action. The student has a valid visa and an admission to MSU and is only being detained due to his Iranian nationality," DreaMSU said in a statement. "We support MSU GEU's efforts in stopping this and ask Michigan State University to denounce this act."
Maze said this is part of a broader prejudice towards foreign students coming to America.
"Unfortunate if this is part of a wider policy towards foreign students and particularly those from Iran who want to study at our academic institutions," Maze said in the statement.
This is a developing story. In our reporting, we'll focus on credible information from officials and other authorities and do our best to correct any inaccuracies. We'll continue to update this story, check back for more updates and keep up with us on Twitter @thesnews.
This story was updated at 4:35 p.m. to include the departure of Yazdani's flight
This story was updated at 5:25 p.m. to include a statement from Michigan State University
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