El Paso

Travel ban rejected, Iranian student arrives in El Paso to attend UTEP

Iranian student arrives in Borderland

EL PASO, Texas - Emotions ran high as Hamed Tavakoli - an Iranian student blocked from starting his master's degree at UTEP - landed at the El Paso International Airport Thursday evening.

"(The trip was) so long and I am so tired, exhausted. But, I am so glad finally I am here," Tavakoli said.  

UTEP Chemistry Professor, Mahesh Narayan, was worried Tavakoli may never be able to study in the Borderland.

"He was supposed to join us two or three weeks ago and his whole plans have been in limbo since then," Narayan said, "He was devastated. He was writing to us and I told him this was way above our level, there is nothing we can do so stay put."

The Iranian student was set to start his doctorate studies in chemistry at UTEP last month. While traveling to the United States, Tavakoli was stopped in Qatar.

He was told he could not board a flight bound for the United States because of the travel ban put in place by the Trump administration.

Tavakoli returned to Iran.

But the tables have turned again and Tavakoli was allowed to enter the country after a federal judge blocked key parts of President Trump's immigration ban.

Narayan told ABC-7 it is a relief that it turned out well. "We don't know what is going to happen eventually, of course. But we did not expect this to hit home in El Paso, Texas, in the department of chemistry," Narayan said.

Tavakoli will do research with Dr. James Li, a chemistry professor at UTEP.

"I am kind of very, very excited and happy for him. I have been checking the news every day and pretty much all the news has been about the travel ban," said  Li."

Tavakoli  is happy to be in the Borderland and hopeful he will be able to stay four years. That is the time it will take him to finish his doctorate degree.

"I am just a student. I don't know anything about political issues. But I am here to study," Tavakoli said.


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