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CUNY Doctoral Student Unable To Return To US After Trump Travel Ban

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A CUNY student is being denied entry back into the United States in wake of President Donald Trump's travel ban.

When Saira Rafiee, who is in the Ph.D program at the CUNY Grad Center, boarded a plane in Abu Dhabi she was told she wouldn't be able to return to New York after visiting family in her native Iran during winter break.

"I have no clue whether I will ever be able to get back to the school I love so much," she wrote in a letter.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said over 100 CUNY students are unable to travel to the U.S. because of the executive order.

"The president needs to realize this is not 'Celebrity Apprentice,' this is the lives of Americans," Adams said.

More than 50 demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on Monday, calling for the restrictions to be lifted. Fellow CUNY students held signs reading, "Let Saira come home."

"The fact that he's targeting Muslim people is hurtful to me, given that I was born and raised here," said Shadiah Zanta, a senior at New York City College of Technology.

Zanta said members of her family are stuck in Yemen.

"My family members and relatives can't even come back, and they're traveling just for a few weeks to check up on their loved ones," Zanta said.

Meanwhile, the State University of New York is advising students and faculty to put off making trips to any of the seven Muslim-majority nations included in Trump's travel ban for immigrants from those countries.

SUNY's top officials issued a statement Sunday recommending suspension of travel plans to the countries included in Trump's executive order blocking immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

SUNY officials say the nation's largest public university system currently has 320 enrolled students who come from those counties. The officials say they're working to determine the potential impact Trump's order could have on students, faculty and staff who are abroad or at home on the system's 64 campuses.

There are more than 22,000 international students from 180 countries enrolled at SUNY colleges and universities.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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