Making Victims Out of Terrorists to Slander President Trump

Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein traveled to Boston’s Logan International Airport seeking admission to the United States, allegedly to study at Northeastern University. Upon arrival, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) promptly took him into custody. He was subsequently denied admission to the United States, subjected to expedited removal and returned to Iran. And rightfully so, since he had a previously undisclosed trip to Iraq, as well as connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, an Islamic terror group supported by the IRGC.

The Federal District Court in Boston promptly ordered that Hossein’s removal be stayed for 48 hours – despite significant questions as to whether federal courts have any authority to review admission determinations by CBP. However, the stay could not be complied with because CBP received the order only after it had placed Hossein on a return flight departing the U.S.

Hossein’s deportation triggered a veritable meltdown among both prominent local politicians and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren promptly tweeted, “”Shahab Dehghani is an Iranian student with a valid F1 visa, returning to finish his education. CBP already held him overnight. His deportation must be halted, and we must fight the Trump administration’s xenophobic policies.”
  • And, Warren, Senator Edward Markey and Representative Ayanna Pressley sent an angry letter demanding to know why CBP had removed Hossein, despite a court order ostensibly granting him a stay of removal.

But, there’s a major problem underlying all of the hyperbole: The political/ACLU outrage is entirely manufactured.

First off, the mere possession of unexpired visa doesn’t entitle a foreign national to enter the United States. A visa is a permit to board a common carrier, travel to the border and request admission to our country. In essence, it’s the Department of State’s indication that it has conducted preliminary vetting on a person who wants to come to America. However, as a matter of law, CBP can still refuse admission to a person with a valid visa.

Second, foreigners who have been refused admission to the United States don’t have any legal basis for challenging CBP’s decision. As the Supreme Court noted in Kliendienst v. Mandel, “unadmitted, nonresident aliens [have]no constitutional right of entry to this country as a nonimmigrant or otherwise.” As a result, refusals of admission by CBP are generally considered exempt from judicial review. What’s more, with extremely limited exceptions, Section 242(a)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act expressly precludes judicial review of an expedited order of removal.

In plain English, that means the federal district court that granted Hossein a stay of removal likely had no authority to do so in the first place. Which, in turn, would have meant that CBP was under no obligation to obey an unlawful order issued by the court. Judicial overreach has become a common occurrence in immigration litigation.

So, why the attempts to paint Hossein as the good guy and CBP as jackbooted fascists? Apparently some Americans are irrevocably committed to portraying President Trump as “Islamophobic” and “racist.” And they’re willing to ignore the truth in order to portray a foreign national with terrorist connections as a hapless victim and defame vigilant CBP Officers as xenophobic thugs.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.

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