An Iranian chemical engineer returning on a cruise from Mexico to Port Everglades said Sunday morning that he was detained by U.S. Customs officials.
Maysam Sodagari, a passenger on an annual gay cruise, gave a running Facebook account of his detention, including two Facebook Live videos.
About three hours after his first post, a photo was posted on another account that showed him outside Terminal 18 with his bags. Sodagari posted a minute later: “I am free to go back home.”
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An order that President Donald Trump signed Friday, among other restrictions, put a 90-day hold on U.S. entrance for citizens of predominantly Muslim countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It originally also barred green card holders from those countries from reentering the United States.
Sodagari, whose LinkedIn page says he has worked for two U.S. companies since getting his doctorate from the University of Akron, began posting around 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas docked about 2 1/2 hours earlier after a sold-out seven-day cruise that hit stops in Mexico and Labadee, Haiti.
Sodagari lives and works in San Francisco, according to his social media accounts, and friends say he has a green card.
Meanwhile, according to The New York Times, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said those from countries in Trump’s executive order on immigration who held green cards could return to the United States. But, Priebus also said, border agents had “discretionary authority” to detain and question suspicious travelers from certain countries.
Passengers getting off the cruise from 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Sunday at Port Everglades told the Miami Herald they saw no one detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Mark Anthony of Miami Beach said the process actually moved more swiftly than when he took the same cruise a year ago.
One of Anthony’s travel partners, Tim Kupinski of Buffalo, and other passengers said announcements had been made the previous night that there would be help for those who needed it at Customs, but it shouldn’t be necessary.
Friends and supporters posted advice, possible attorney contacts and news updates regarding the immigration executive order.
Sodagari also posted two Facebook Live videos as Customs halted his re-entry.
Knowing Sodagari’s situation, a couple of friends tweeted at members of Congress on Saturday, while the ship was still at sea.
Sodagari himself was concerned about being sent back to Iran, where the government can punish gay people with whippings or death.
By 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sodagari hadn’t posted any further updates after this one: “Still in the waiting room.”
This report will be updated as more information becomes available.