ABPA Board member, Albert Mokhiber, worked tirelessly to support Ismail Ajjawi, Palestinian student who was accepted by Harvard University but later denied entry to the United States last month at the Logan International Airport in Boston. Ajjawi’s case was much discussed in global media, sparking a fury across the nation who feared the current administration is making it far more difficult for international students to attend schools in the United States.
“In my 35 years of practicing immigration law, the successful case of Ismail Ajjawi is one of the most rewarding. Against all odds, a Palestinian refugee who attended UNRWA schools in the camps of Lebanon, earned a full scholarship to Harvard, hit a road block, but eventually granted entry to the United States to pursue his college dream,” said Mr. Mokhiber, who served as the attorney of the student.
ABPA Founder and President, Fuad Sahouri, praised Mokhiber’s efforts noting that, “Mr. Mokhiber and all other ABPA Board members are dedicated to realize Arab-American dream of education, integration, and success” and “students from the Arab world should be supported, not discouraged, to receive a quality education in the United States.” He concluded that “it is a win for America,” “it is a win for the Arab world,” and “it is a win for the global peace.”
The 17-year-old Ajjawi was granted a scholarship to attend Harvard University, where he plans to study physical and chemical biology to become a surgeon. Ajjawi is now at Harvard campus with a reissued visa, having begun his first classes this past Tuesday.
Upon arrival at the Logan International Airport, Ajjawi was detained and interrogated for hours. Immigration officials searched his phone and computer and was questioned on his religion and social media. The officials revoked Ajjawi’s visa following a search through his friends’ social media accounts and was sent back to his hometown. Prior the encounter, Ismail Ajjawi had been living in a refugee camp in Tyre, Lebanon where he attended United Nations schools.
ABPA Board member, Mr. Mokhiber, worked alongside Harvard and AMIDEAST, an American nonprofit cultural exchange and education program. “It’s a classic sad tale with an exceptionally unique happy ending,” he noted. “None of this would have been possible without the amazing efforts of Harvard, AMIDEAST, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and the outpouring of international media and popular support.”
Mr. Mokhiber’s comments and the story details can be found in the following accounts by the global media: