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For most Penn students, increased airport security means longer lines and the occasional surrendering of a nail file or pair of scissors. Once in a while, one is obliged to allow strangers in uniform to examine one's shoes and feel one's feet.

Coming through Newark on March 12 on his return to the United States after a four-day job hunting trip to London with his wife, these were the least of Yahya Jalil's problems.

Though the most subversive organization on the second-year Wharton MBA student's resume is General Electric, where he was promoted to assistant vice president in GE's venture capital fund before coming to Wharton, Jalil's Pakistani citizenship trapped him in the bowels of new USA PATRIOT Act regulations -- Special Registration.

A new addition to U.S. law dating from October 2002, the Special Registration requirement orders any male citizen of one of 25 Muslim countries to notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service when he buys a house, switches jobs, moves -- or enters or leaves the country. In addition to a laundry list of other do's and don'ts, these men must register at an approved point of departure before leaving the country.

All old news to Jalil, except for the last requirement, and that's all it took to get him barred from the country.

But fortunately for him, he's not alone in his fight to return to his life in the United States.

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, led by former GAPSA Chairman Jeremy Korst, has begun a campaign to get Jalil back into the country. Their efforts have won the support of University President Judith Rodin, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Wharton School Dean Patrick Harker, along with over 3,000 signatories to a GAPSA petition to bring Jalil home.

Jalil claims that he never received any notification of the new regulation before he was detained by the INS at Newark.

"I... paid attention to the e-mails sent by [Penn's] Office of International Programs," Jalil said in a written statement he sent to the INS. "The e-mails... detailed the requirements of special registration, but only mentioned the need to depart from designated airports as the departure requirement and did not mention the need to register upon departure."

Nor did the INS agents that interviewed him earlier in the year, and nor, when asked before his trip, did United Airlines officials explain that he had to register at Newark before leaving the country.

By the time he touched down, it was already too late.

"My wife had been allowed entry, since Special Registration rules only apply to men," Jalil explained. "She had gone on and collected our luggage... expecting me to join her shortly."

She's still waiting.

"This is totally unexpected," Jalil's wife Hifza said. "Especially two months away from his graduation."

Both originally from Lahore, Pakistan, the couple met in 1997 when Jalil was working in the States. But plans for the future, have been put on hold indefinitely as leases are terminated, prospective children delayed and scenes shifted.

From phone calls to lawyers to airline tickets, Jalil estimates that the ordeal has cost him around $4,000, not counting lost opportunities. Though Wharton has allowed Jalil to take his finals and complete his coursework in Pakistan, connections he made and trails he was following are going cold.

"It's pretty depressing," Hifza said. "All the good companies are coming now.... He's going to miss his graduation and all the good job opportunities."

"I canceled everything," she continued, adding that she'll be "terminating the lease since we don't know when we'll be back."

Told in London that he will have to reapply for entry from his home country, Jalil is currently with his family in Pakistan, where his wife plans to join him.

Worst of all, Jalil does not even feel comfortable describing how the whole thing has made him feel.

"It's tough for me to answer this," he said. "It is a fact that this is a question that is asked of certain entrants by the INS at Newark Airport."

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