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Brooklyn CUNY Student Returns to U.S. From Iran as Travel Ban Lifted

 CUNY student Saira Rafiee (third from left) returned to the United States on Saturday at Logan Airport in Boston.
CUNY student Saira Rafiee (third from left) returned to the United States on Saturday at Logan Airport in Boston.
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Courtesy of Hercules Reid

BROOKLYN — An Iranian CUNY student and teacher stuck in her native country after President Donald Trump ordered a travel ban is back in Brooklyn, her supporters said.

Saira Rafiee, 31, returned to her Prospect-Lefferts Gardens home Saturday after spending more than an extra week in Iran following the Jan. 27 executive order.

Rafiee, who studies and helps teach political science at CUNY's Graduate Center, had been visiting family on vacation when Trump temporarily banned travelers from seven Middle Eastern countries, including Iran.

In a Facebook post, she said she was on a flight from Abu Dhabi returning to the United States when she was told she wouldn’t be able to enter the country.

“I had to stay there for nearly 18 hours, along with 11 other Iranians, before getting on the flight back to Tehran,” she said.

But on Saturday, Rafiee boarded a flight from Iran to Boston’s Logan Airport, where a judge had previously ordered that no travelers should be detained and where many stranded travelers have been flying during the ban.

She landed just after an Appeals Court struck down the White House's attempt to reinstate the ban nationwide.

Supporters from CUNY, who held a rally for Rafiee in Brooklyn last week, greeted her at the airport as she arrived with signs reading “Welcome home Saira!” and “CUNY misses you!”

“It was amazing news once we found out about the ban being lifted,” said CUNY student Hercules Reid, who had been involved with the effort to bring her back.

Rafiee’s experience mirrors that of others in New York over the weekend.

Lawyers working on behalf of travelers stranded at JFK Airport told DNAinfo all passengers have been passing through without incident since Friday, when a Seattle judge effectively halted the travel ban nationwide.