Nine exchange students returning to Arizona State University from China were stopped and temporarily detained by Customs and Border Protection at Los Angeles International Airport.
University officials said in a statement on Friday that the Chinese students were “denied admission to the U.S. to continue their studies” and were sent back to China “over the last week” as they were returning for the fall semester.
“We are working as quickly as possible to coordinate with the federal government to understand the circumstances surrounding these actions and to rectify the situation,” the statement reads.
In its statement, ASU revealed that no reason was provided to them as to why the students were detained and sent back, the Arizona Central reports.
While the students were sent home, they are still enrolled at ASU and continuing their classes via the university’s online portal. Some of them are expected to graduate this semester.
The statement also belied an earlier report that the detentions were due to academic dishonesty issues, adding that they have not been given such information.
“In fact, CBP has given ASU no information on what has transpired,” the university said.
It added that such an academic issue would be ASU’s concern and not of the customs officials.
“All of the students caught in this situation were academically eligible to return to ASU and to the United States under their visas,” ASU said.
The CBP also released a statement on Friday, claiming that the Chinese students were barred from entering the U.S. based on information they discovered during an inspection.
According to ASU, they reached out to “all levels of federal government” to get more details. ASU President Michael Crow also sent letters to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan.
“In each case, the students were in possession of all needed documentation to enter the U.S. yet they were refused entry at the airport, told they needed to return to China, that they needed to pay for their own airline ticket to do so or face a ban from re-entering the U.S. for five years,” Crow reportedly wrote to the federal officials.
Crow is seeking a review of the individual situations for the nine students and a review of the procedures that involved searching electronic devices carried by students who enter the U.S.
“In our country, where we value due process and celebrate the different ways in which our government behaves from that of the arbitrary and capricious behavior of other nations, it is beyond my comprehension how the U.S. government could establish and implement policies that bring about the outcomes we are now witnessing,” Crow noted in his letter.
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