A former police chief of Greenville, North Carolina, was detained at John F Kennedy Airport in New York on Saturday because his ‘name’ appeared on the watch list.
Hassan Aden, a US citizen for 42 years, was returning from a weekend in Paris for his mother’s 80th birthday when he was held by the US Customs and Border Protection officials for 90 minutes.
Aden, who spent 26 years in service of the police department in Alexandria, Virginia, described the detention on a Facebook post:
“On all of my prior trips, I was greeted by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers with a warm smile and the usual, “Welcome home sir”. Not this time. I approached CBP Officer Chow who didn’t say anything when I handed him my passport and looked at me with a gruff expression and simply stated, “are you traveling alone?”, I knew this was a sign of trouble, I answered “yes”, he then said, “Let’s take a walk”.
The 52 year-old said he was taken to a back office where a CBP officer told him that his name was “being used as an alias by someone on the watch list”. While his documents were sent to another agency to be processed, he saw some 25 foreign nationals brought in and released.
“I pointed out the irony of this fact to the CBP officer who was attempting to “clear me for entry”. I told him, as he avoided eye contact, how wrong this scenario was that the only US citizen, career US police officer and chief of police, out of the group of detainees, was the one with the longest unreasonable detention,” Aden said in his social media post.
The former cop, a non-Muslim according to The Washington Post, said that polices like the travel ban push a narrative that “could lead to attitudes that would make authorities suspicious of his name.”
Speaking to NBC News, the career police office said “an hour and a half becomes unreasonable detention.”
“I know how the databases work,” he told NBC. “It doesn’t take 1½ hours to check someone out when you have their passport.”
The Washington Post reported that in an email on Sunday, a spokesperson for CBP did not deliberate of the specifics of the case due to the federal Privacy Act but added that “all travelers arriving to the US are subject to CBP investigation.”
“At times, travelers may be inconvenienced as we work through the arrival process to ensure those entering the country are doing so legitimately and lawfully,” she said while stressing that the agency’s policy for screening was above race and ethnicity “in all but the most exceptional circumstance”.
“We strive to process arriving travelers as efficiently and securely as possible while ensuring compliance with laws and regulations governing the international arrival process,” wrote the Post quoting the spokesperson.
Aden, who retired in 2015, took to Twitter on Monday to thank people for the support after he raised the CBP detention issue.