Despite judge’s order, Iranian student deported

Judge Stearns dismissed case, attorneys to refile with Burroughs

JUDGE RICHARD STEARNS dismissed the case of an Iranian student who was due to start school at Northeastern University but was detained by federal immigration officials on Sunday night at Logan Airport. 

US Customs and Border Protection deported Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, also known as Shahab Dehghani, despite an emergency stay issued by US District Court Judge Allison Burroughs Monday evening. The ruling would have allowed him to remain in the country for another 48 hours while his case was assessed.

Abadi was told he would not be allowed to remain in the US, despite being cleared to study here on a renewed student visa.

Abadi’s attorney, Susan Church, said Sen. Ed Markey’s office called her Tuesday morning and told her that Abadi had been deported. She said the deportation was done “in defiance of the federal judge’s order.” According to Church and Kerry Doyle, who is also representing Abadi, the agency denied Abadi entry and removed him because they believe he intended to stay permanently in the country beyond his student visa. Border Protection has not responded to requests about this.

Stearns said in court that he didn’t think the government would “listen” to him, and that he did not jurisdiction over the issue because Abadi had been deported, calling the case “moot.”

“This seems to be an issue for Burroughs, not me,” Stearns said. Church and Doyle contested that the emergency order was issued at around 9:20 pm– Abadi was not deported until 10:03pm, which would indicate the federal government violated the mandate. Doyle said later, “CBP has a history of ignoring district court orders.”

Attorneys plan to file another motion on Abadi’s behalf with Burroughs.

Northeastern University student Shahab Dehghani. (Handout photo)

Doyle says that Abadi landed in Paris, France this morning and is distressed over the situation.

Customs and Border Protection said it cannot comment on an individual’s processing due to the Privacy Act. A spokesman said that applicants must “demonstrate they are admissible into the US by overcoming all grounds of inadmissibility.”

Church’s firm, along with the Boston immigration law firm Graves & Doyle, filed the emergency federal petition Monday night eight minutes before Abadi’s flight back to Iran was scheduled to take off.

Immigration activists quickly spread word of Abadi’s deportation, and more than 100 demonstrators gathered Monday night at the international terminal at Logan, holding signs protesting his possible removal. According to court records, his visa was revoked during an arrival interview despite it being valid.

Sources at Congressman Joe Kennedy’s office say he made multiple calls to Customs and Border Protection on Monday to try and intervene on Abadi’s behalf. “He was stonewalled and slow-walked repeatedly and given the impression the agency was trying to run out the clock,” one person in Kennedy’s office said.

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

Abadi is the eighth student from Iran to be deported from Boston, according to attorneys. Others, including Iowa State University graduate student Mahla Shahkhajeh, were refused entry and removed from the country at Logan Airport.

Various reasons were given for each of the earlier deportations. Tensions between Iran and the United States have been rising for some time, and reached a fever pitch after President Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq.