Deportation battle exposes fuzzy border line

Granted it sits right on the edge of Boston Harbor on the country’s eastern shore. But it has never seemed particularly in question that East Boston is part of the United States.

But when it comes to various holding rooms and areas of Logan Airport that lie between the airport tarmac and the doorways out of border patrol and customs services, whether people there who have arrived on international flights are, in fact, in the United States is evidently not at all clear.

That’s just one of the curious takeaways from the controversy set in motion earlier this week when immigration officials detained an Iranian student who arrived in Boston to attend Northeastern University and put him on a flight back out of the country, deporting him before he ever left the airport.

Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi arrived at Logan on Sunday from Iran with a valid student visa after spending time with his family and renewing his visa to attend Northeastern. But US Customs and Border Protection officials detained him for questioning.

When his lawyers learned he was potentially facing deportation, they filed an emergency petition in federal court to block his removal. US District Court Judge Allison Burroughs granted a 48-hour stay of any deportation at 9:28 p.m. on Monday, but Abadi was put on a flight that departed for Paris at 9:56 p.m., despite border agents knowing the court order had been issued, his lawyers say.

Both of the state’s US senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, as well Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Joe Kennedy are demanding answers from immigration officials about Abadi’s removal as well as action taken against other Iranian students with valid visas.

Three attorneys representing Abadi, Susan Church, Kerry Doyle, and Heather Yountz,  penned an op-ed in today’s Globe decrying federal immigration officials’ moves to deport their client despite a court order.

“Defying a federal judge is a serious breach, foreshadowing a potential constitutional crisis,” wrote the lawyers. “Rule of law depends on the judiciary’s ability to issue a decision and to expect it to be honored by the other branches of government. As immigration lawyers, we meet people from countries where the rule of law does not exist. None of us wants to live in such a country.”

Abadi’s lawyers say they’ve only been given vague justification for the action, saying they were told there were general concerns that he might overstay his visa. The Globe says an immigration official, speaking anonymously, pointed to ties between Abadi’s family and a company that has been sanctioned by the US for alleged ties to Hezbollah and said Abidi himself has connections to a group called Islamic Pulse, “known for its social media presence and anti-American rhetoric.”

Church, one of Abadi’s lawyers, called all the allegations “absolutely false.”

While immigration lawyers expressed outrage over the border agents’ apparent disregard for a federal judge’s order, the court’s jurisdiction over the issue seems murky.

“If you’re physically inside the country, such as at an airport . . . that is considered not in the United States” until you have cleared customs, Suffolk Law School professor Ragini Shah told the Globe.

While suggesting a court would have limited authority to reverse a decision not to admit someone, Shah said that’s different from a court order to put a hold on any removal. She said a judge could have found the government in contempt for ignoring Burroughs’s emergency 48-hour stay issued on Monday night, but it was a different judge, US District Court Judge Robert Stearns, who heard the case on Tuesday morning and he appeared reluctant to issue that sanction on another judge’s initial ruling.

“It sounds like he didn’t feel comfortable issuing a contempt on somebody else’s order,” Shah said.

Abadi’s lawyers are calling for congressional hearings on Customs and Border Patrol policies and practices, writing that the agency “needs oversight and reform, and it must face consequences for its misbehavior.”

MICHAEL JONAS

 

 

BEACON HILL

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MUNICIPAL MATTERS

With a former city official facing sentencing today on federal bribery charges in connection with trying to influence a zoning board vote, Boston officials are weighing changes to the process for approving development projects. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Democratic impeachment managers sought to preempt President Trump’s potential defense arguments by raising — and seeking to debunk — the idea that Joe Biden had any improper dealings with Ukraine. (New York Times)

Scot Lehigh says Republicans have a choice between integrity and servility, and the clear separating the two is whether they will at least vote to bring witnesses to the impeachment trial to air the full story, regardless of how they ultimate vote. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Kamala Harris, who memorably attacked Joe Biden in the first Democratic primary debate in June over his earlier opposition to school busing, is considering endorsing him. (New York Times)

Attacks on Bernie Sanders from current rival Elizabeth Warren and past one Hillary Clinton are backfiring and helping fuel his surge, say Sanders backers. (Boston Herald)

Michael Bloomberg, with his millions in TV ad spending, is starting to get under President Trump’s skin as his airwave attacks land on the usually Trump-fawning Fox News channel. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

While Fall River’s median sales price for single-family homes remains below the average seen across the state, local property values are still climbing and are expected to climb further as scarcity continues to affect the city’s housing market. (Herald News) 

The Catholic Diocese of Worcester reports a nearly $1.5 million deficit for fiscal 2019. (Telegram & Gazette)

EDUCATION

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has given preliminary approval for a maximum facility grant of $36 million for the proposed Nauset Regional High School project. (Cape Cod Times)

TRANSPORTATION 

The long-term project to reconstruct the ferry terminal in Woods Hole is chugging along, but not without exceeding its $60 million budget by $10 million. (Cape Cod Times) 

A water pipe burst at the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Brockton, and now people turned away at the door are being told it will be a few months before it reopens. (The Enterprise) 

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

At a listening session in Worcester, the Cannabis Control Commission hears a lot of frustration from priority-status pot entrepreneurs. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

John Kapoor, the founder of Insys Therapeutics, was sentenced to 5½ years in federal prison for conspiring to bribe doctors to prescribe the deadly painkiller fentanyl. (Boston Globe)

A Suffolk Superior Court jury found Pingxia Fan of Boston and Timothy Hayes of Gloucester guilty of five counts each of sex trafficking and deriving support from prostitution. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

Never mind the New York Times Democratic primary endorsement. The Storm Lake Times is the paper with clout in western Iowa as the state’s pivotal caucuses near. (Boston Globe)