Iranian man with green card released after detention at Port Everglades

'I am free to go back home,' he says

By Terrell Forney - Reporter, Paradise Afshar - Digital Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - An Iranian man who was on a cruise to Mexico was stopped and detained by U.S. Customs officials in Port Everglades was released Sunday afternoon, according to a series of Facebook posts.

Maysam Sodagari, who is a green card holder, had posted to Facebook on Saturday that his future would be unclear when he entered the United States because of the executive order signed by President Donald Trump that places a travel ban in put affecting seven Muslim-majority countries.

"I was nervous," he said an in interview with Local 10 News. "I didn't really know what would happen to me. The future was unclear." 

While Sodagari was detained, Trump's administration said green card holders -- including those detained at airports across the United States in the wake of Trump's ban on travel from seven nations -- will be allowed into the country.

He was released shortly after.

Before the cruise docked, Sodagari took to Facebook and wrote: "If I get detained and sent back to Iran, at least I lived the life to the fullest as a gay man in the U.S., and I want to thank you all for being part of this experience." 

Sodagari was born in Iran and has lived in the U.S. for about nine years. 

The travel ban was placed while he was on the cruise, which caused some confusion. 

"Last week when I left, I was a legal immigrant," Sodagari said. "Then all of a sudden, in one night, everything changed." 

Sodagari, who works in the pharmaceutical biotechnology industry, was then stopped and escorted to Customs and Border Protection when the ship arrived at Port Everglades. 

"Maybe this is part of a random check, I am not sure if it is related to my immigration case," he wrote on Facebook. 

He was then asked to go to a room and wait, according to a post.

Attorneys were already onsite at the port, ready to help travelers. 

"To the extent of folks who have green cards, we have to understand they have rights," Khurrum Wahid, an attorney, said. "They have gone through the vetting process already and the United States has said we want you to be a permanent resident in this country. And we have to make sure we honor that promise we made to them." 

After being questioned for hours, Sodagari was released. 

"They were very friendly and made me feel comfortable," he said. "They explained the procedure to me and said this is very new to them also." 

 

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