More than 1,000 people have signed a petition published by Harvard College Act on a Dream demanding the safe re-entry of Reihana Emami Arandi, an Iranian citizen admitted to Harvard Divinity School in 2019 but deported from Logan International Airport in September.
Arandi’s lawyers said she faced three months of vetting and security checks following her admission to Harvard. Upon arriving in the United States on September 18, Customs and Border Protection agents allegedly detained and interrogated her for over eight hours. They issued Arandi an expedited removal order, forcing her to return to Iran and banning her from entering the U.S. for an additional five years, according to her lawyers.
CBP issued the removal order on grounds of “immigrant intent” — citing a belief that Arandi planned to permanently reside in the United States. Jason M. Corral, one of Arandi’s lawyers, previously said he sees no rational basis on which CBP could have determined immigrant intent.
Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic director Sabrineh Ardalan and Cambridge lawyer Susan B. Church also represent Arandi. Arandi’s lawyers filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights office on January 30.
Published over a week ago, the petition demands that CBP "rescind its 5-year ban on Reihana and allow her to return to the U.S. immediately so that she can continue her studies at Harvard University.” It also calls on Harvard and members of Congress to support and speak out in solidarity with Arandi.
In an emailed statement provided by Corral, Arandi wrote she believed she was “targeted and was subjected to discrimination” on the basis of her nationality.
“We hope that DHS will conduct a thorough investigation of the mistreatment of students and the misuse of expedited removal orders at Logan airport,” she wrote. “At Logan they didn’t tell anything about this allegation or other reasons for their decision.”
The petition calls CBP’s conduct “not only wrong and baseless, but arbitrary and reprehensible.” The petition also alleges that Arandi’s deportation is part of a “coordinated campaign” to limit the entry of Iranians to the United States.
“We’re starting to see a pattern of these expedited removals at Logan Airport,” Corral said in an interview two weeks ago.
A DHS spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.