French Scholar on Way to Speak at Texas A&M Was Detained at Airport for 10 Hours

A visiting scholar who was scheduled to speak at Texas A&M University at College Station was detained at Houston International Airport last week and was about to be deported before university officials reached customs agents at the airport and persuaded them they were making a mistake, The Bryan-College Station Eagle reported.

The scholar, Henry Rousso, is a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research who studies the history and memory of traumatic pasts, especially of France during World War II and the postwar period. He was flying in from Paris on Wednesday to participate in a symposium at the university’s Hagler Institute for Advanced Study when he was detained because of a misunderstanding regarding his visa.

Richard J. Golsan, director of a humanities-research center at A&M, said at the symposium on Friday that when Mr. Rousso had called him from the airport, “he was waiting for customs officials to send him back to Paris as an illegal alien on the first flight out.” Mr. Golsan credited Fatma Marouf, a law professor and director of a clinic on immigrants’ rights, with leading the university’s efforts to contact customs agents in Houston and get the situation resolved. “Due to her prompt and timely intervention,” he said, Mr. Rousso was released.

Ms. Marouf — who this month filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of more than 280 law professors and clinicians who oppose President Trump’s travel ban — said the Houston agents’ decision to detain Mr. Rousso and deport him on the next available flight seemed an “extreme response” and a reflection of a new “rigidity and rigor in enforcing these immigration requirements and the technicalities of every visa.”

On Twitter, Mr. Rousso confirmed that he had been held at the airport for 10 hours and thanked those who had offered expressions of support. He added, “My situation was nothing compared to some of the people I saw who couldn’t be defended as I was.”

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