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Immigration Law

'Extreme Vetting' Nets...An Engineering Professor?

Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, June 12, 2017 - "A professor at the American University of Beirut traveling to an engineering conference in California was denied entry into the U.S. by immigration officials at Los Angeles International Airport in a case that could raise renewed concerns about the impact of the Trump administration’s travel policies on academic exchange.

AUB said George Saad traveled to the U.S. on Friday, June 2, to present his work at the American Society of Civil Engineers' Engineering Mechanics Institute conference in San Diego. “At the gate in Charles de Gaulle airport, he was interviewed by a representative from the U.S. embassy in Paris to confirm his identity before boarding the flight to LAX,” AUB said in a statement. “He was cleared to fly but was met in LAX by immigration officers, who continued to interview him. Then he was informed that his visa was canceled, and he was put on a return flight out of LAX.”

Saad, an assistant professor of engineering at AUB, a prestigious, American-style institution chartered in the state of New York, has graduate degrees from two U.S. universities -- a master’s from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California -- and is a licensed engineer in California, according to his online CV and California professional registration records. “AUB is surprised and concerned by the restrictions placed on a scholar who was traveling in order to share his research in the engineering field,” the university said.

Saad did not return multiple email messages seeking comment. In an interview with The New York Post, which first reported on the refusal, he said he was interrogated for four hours upon arriving at LAX, that his phone and laptop were seized, and that he had to give passwords for the devices. He told the Post he has traveled to the U.S. without incident about 15 times, including for engineering conferences in 2015 and 2016, and that he was not given an explanation for why he was refused entry."