While returning home from his mother's birthday celebration in Paris, Hassan Aden, the retired police chief of Greenville, North Carolina, says he was unfairly detained for 90 minutes at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport because of his name.
Aden said he told an officer that he was a retired police chief and a career law enforcement officer, but the man said that he had "no control" over the situation and that it "didn't matter" what his job was. 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".
He had a 25-year tenure with the force in Alexandria, Virginia where he was deputy police chief.
He also added that the experience left him feeling vulnerable and concerned about the future of the country. My freedoms were restricted, and I can not be sure it won't happen again, and that it won't happen to my family, my children, the next time we travel overseas. Aden was released after an hour and a half and, thanks to his Transportation and Security Administration Pre-Check status, was able to get back through security quickly and made his next flight.
Aden, who grew up in France and Italy and became a citizen 42 years ago, said it was unclear why it took Customs and Border Patrol agents so long to process him.
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"I told him as he avoided eye contact how wrong this scenario was that the only United States citizen, career U.S. police officer and chief of police out of the group of detainees was the one with the longest unreasonable detention", Aden said. "I wondered about others", Aden said.
In his Facebook post, he writes, "If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone with attributes that can be 'profiled.' No one is safe from this type of unlawful government intrusion".
In his Facebook status, Aden - whose mother is Italian and father Somali - also pointed out that he has taken many trips overseas, and was always allowed back into the USA without incident. However, since President Donald Trump took the office, things have changed. "This experience makes me question if this is indeed home", he wrote. Aden said his detention lasted for an hour and a half before CBP officers cleared him from entry in to the country and onwards to his journey home. This country now feels cold, unwelcoming, and in the beginning stages of a country that is isolating itself from the rest of the world-and its own people-in an unprecedented fashion.
In response to a request for comment, a CBP spokesperson said "due to the Privacy Act, we can not comment on specific cases, but all travelers arriving to the USA are subject to CBP inspection". "High levels of hate and injustice have been felt in vulnerable communities for decades-it is now hitting the rest of America".