UNL international student forced to leave U.S.

A UNL international student and Ph. D. candidate says she was accused of being a prostitute from overseas.  Angela Pochanasomburana is from Thailand and was teaching there as part of her graduate work.  W hen she tried to return to Lincoln, Seattle was as far as she got.

Pochanasomburana says immigration officials accused her of unlawful doings, threatened her and sent her back to Thailand.  She e–mailed colleagues back at UNL detailing what happened.

Pochanasomburana sent the e-mail to several people, including friend Ashley Barnett.  Barnett says, “You could tell she was sad and scared about what had happened to her and how frustrating it was to go through the entire ordeal.  It was heartbreaking to read.”

Pochanasomburana explained how she arrived in Seattle last week with her dissertation in hand and headed to a conference, until customs cut her off.  Barnett says, “She told us about being detained and interrogated and subsequently deported back to Thailand, really unsure about what her future is going to be.”

Angela says she and two other south Asian women were asked to sign a paper or risk being unable to return to the states for many years.  She says the paper insinuates the women were flown here for prostitution.  She had all of her necessary papers and insisted customs call her advisor.  They did, but still confiscated her cell phone and passport before sending her back.

The graduate students and faculty at UNL say it's an act of racism they have a legal and ethical objection to do something about.  Associate Dean Peter Levitov says, “One thing is to be upset on her behalf.  The other thing is to use what resources we have, what knowledge we have to try and see what we can do about it.  We, the university in a sense, represent the U.S. to her and if we didn't act on her behalf, she would feel abandoned.”

Students and faculty are  drafting resolutions for our congressional delegation.  They say they will not let this go until Pochanasomburana's name is cleared and the officer at the Seattle airport is investigated.