TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State University is asking for answers from high U.S. officials after it says nine ASU undergraduate students from China were detained at Los Angeles International Airport and then denied entry into the U.S. over the last week.
In letters to the Secretary of State and Department of Homeland Security Secretary, ASU President Michael Crow says the students were in possession of proper documentation to enter the U.S. but they were denied entry and told they needed to pay for their own airline ticket back to China or they would face a 5-year ban from re-entering the U.S.
ASU sent out a statement Saturday regarding an allegation that the students were detained because of academic dishonesty saying, "To ASU’s knowledge, the detentions were not based on allegations of academic dishonesty. Customs and Border Protection has not told ASU it was related to academic dishonesty – in fact CBP has given ASU no information on what has transpired."
The statement continues:
All of the students caught in this situation were academically eligible to return to ASU and to the United States under their visas. Moreover, in cases of academic integrity, the only institution capable of determining such a violation is the academic institution in which students are enrolled.
Customs and Border Protection is in no position to make such a finding. The university has engaged with all levels of federal government over the last week, including the Secretary of State and acting Secretary of Homeland Security, to understand the circumstances surrounding these actions and work to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.
In Crow's letters to Secretary Michael Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan he asks for a written explanation regarding the standard procedures for the screening of international students upon arrival at LAX.
He also asks for ASU to be granted the right to speak with international students when they are being detained at the airport or being denied access to the U.S., a summary of the number and circumstances for denials for entry into the U.S. for Chinese students at LAX in the past 90 days and a contact for an official at Customs and Border Patrol who ASU can communicate with on these matters.
Additionally, Crow also says the students' electronic devices were apparently reviewed.
You can read the letter Crow sent below:
12 News has reached out to Customs and Border Patrol and has not yet received a response.
This is a developing story and we will update with new information as it becomes available.