The Middle East Studies Association has been following with concern the growing evidence of a systematic denial of entry to the United States of Iranian students with valid visas. According to media reports and ACLU investigations, at least 16 Iranian students have been deported over the last few months, while many other Iranian students report extensive interrogations on entry to the United States. On January 20, the issue reached national attention when Iranian student Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi was deported after seeking to begin his studies at Northeastern University despite holding a valid visa.
MESA is taking this new challenge to students and faculty from the Middle East very seriously. At its annual meeting held in New Orleans in October 2019, MESA asked its Task Force on Civil and Human Rights to initiate a study of the issue of visa cancelations, border denials, and deportations of students and faculty from the Middle East.
The Task Force is seeking information from hundreds of colleges and universities, as well as from professional associations, non-governmental organizations, and immigration lawyers. The goal is to generate reliable data on the extent of the problem and its direct and indirect effects. It is looking into not only the direct effects of changing visa policy, but also its effects on student decisions to apply to American higher education institutions, to accept offers of admission, and to matriculate after acceptance.
The Task Force welcomes the assistance of its members in reaching out to their institutions for this information.
For more information or to offer your assistance, please contact visaRA@mesana.org.