A French Holocaust historian was detained for over 10 hours at the George Bush International Airport at Houston earlier this week. Henry Rousso, who specializes in World War II and the post-war era, was visiting the United States in order to participate in a discussion at Texas A&M University, but was detained by U.S. Custom officials for 10 hours, CNN reports.
Henry Rousso commented on the incident, saying, “The United States seems no longer quite the United States.” Mr. Rousso was set to take part in a discussion titled “Writing in dark times” in Texas A&M University, but the immigration officials who detained him told him that he didn’t qualify to “give a lecture and receive an honorarium” with his tourist visa. However, regardless of what the immigration officials told him, Henry Rousso did qualify for entry to the United States. The United States State Department has a provision for foreign nationals to receive an honorarium under a tourist visa if they are also a lecturer or a speaker at the event. Mr. Rousso says that this is the first time in 30 years of travelling to the U.S. that he’s had trouble at entry.
I confirm. I have been detained 10 hours at Houston Itl Airport about to be deported. The officer who arrested me was "inexperienced" https://t.co/SdIKWKQbnr
— Henry Rousso (@Henry_Rousso) February 26, 2017
The director of Texas A&M’s Center for Humanities Research, Richard J. Golsan, who had invited Henry Rousso to the event, commented on the incident and Mr. Rousso’s reaction to it.
“He is shaken. At this point he loves this country but is frankly disturbed about what is going on. We asked him if he saw this was a result of the new immigration ban. He said he thinks this is the new spirit for immigration, much more suspicious and frankly a hostile take on these things.”
Golsan says that he was called by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official in order to confirm that Henry Rousso was in fact who he claimed to be. Mr. Golsan elaborated on the situation and on Mr. Rousso’s background.
“My own experience talking to the agent was unsettling. All he had to do was Google ‘Henry Rousso’ and he could see he is who he claimed to be.
“He was born in Egypt and left Egypt under extremely painful circumstances because he was Jewish. This reminded him of those traumatic experiences.”
— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) February 25, 2017
As soon as Mr. Rousso called Mr. Golsan to tell him that he was being deported from the country, Mr. Golsan notified the French Consulate and the Texas A&M lawyers. Once they intervened, the Custom officials released Mr. Rousso, saying that they had made a mistake and he was free to enter the country.
Even the French Foreign Ministry has weighed in on Mr. Rousso’s embarrassing detainment at the United States Customs. The ministry commented, “We deplore this incident and we hope that the American authorities will remain attentive to the conditions of circulation of our French citizens, who, as in the case of Professor Rousso, contribute to the vitality of relations between France and the United States.”
ICE was asked to comment on the mishap. Although they declined from commenting on the particular case involving Mr. Rousso, they provided a generic answer.
“The United States has been and continues to be a welcoming nation. Applicants for admission bear the burden of proof to establish that they are clearly eligible to enter the United States. In order to demonstrate that they are admissible, the applicant must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility.”
Mr. Rousso wrote a blog post about the incident, using the opportunity to take jabs at the U.S. president. President Trump had commented last week at the CPAC that “Paris isn’t Paris anymore.” Mr. Rousso wrote, “I heard recently that ‘Paris isn’t Paris anymore.’ The United States seems no longer quite the United States.”
[Featured Image by Rick Kern/Getty Images]