Professors from UMass Dartmouth released after unlawful detention

By Jackson Cote


Two UMass Dartmouth professors were released temporarily Sunday after unlawfully being detained at Logan Airport Saturday, Jan. 28, as part of President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban of over 218 million citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries via executive order.

Associate professors Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam were granted a seven-day temporary restraining order, after being held for approximately three hours by U.S. Customs and Border Control officers, according to an article written by ‘SouthCoastTODAY’.

The release came after the ACLU of Massachusetts and leading immigration lawyers filed suit in Federal District Court in Massachusetts, who had been keeping in touch with UMass Dartmouth officials, including Tootkaboni and Louhghalam.

In a message released Sunday by UMass Dartmouth Interim Chancellor Peyton R. Helm and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Mohammad Karim, the officials noted that both professors are “legal permanent residents of the United States with green cards.”

“We want to be clear that we believe the executive order does nothing to make our country safer and represents a shameful ignorance of and indifference to the values that have traditionally made America a beacon of liberty and hope,” Helm and Karim wrote.

According to the biographies of the professors on the school’s website, “Dr. Arghavan Louhghalam joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as an assistant professor,” and prior to that, “she was a postdoctoral research associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Concrete Sustainability Hub.”

Additionally, Tootkaboni’s career path includes joining “the Department of Civil Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University in 2004 and [earning] his PhD degree in Structural Mechanics in May 2009.” Currently at UMass Dartmouth his “research lies at the intersection of computational mechanics and applied probability and statistics.”

Helm and Karim concluded their release to the UMass community, emphasizing their commitment to “individual and intellectual freedom [and] to protect the rights, safety, and well-being of our international students, faculty, and staff.”

Jackson Cote can be reached at [email protected].