The New York Times reports on Syed Ali – “one of a number of Muslim Americans who have complained that since the start of the Trump administration they have been subjected to additional scrutiny when returning from abroad, facing hours in airport custody and what they described as hostile questioning.” The Times makes the point that it could happen to any Muslim American – whether you’re an officer in the New York Police Department, a combat veteran or a major in the United States Army Reserve. All positions which Syed Ali holds.
Officer Ali describes arriving at Kennedy Airport on an evening flight from Istanbul, and being led from passport control to a holding area for what Customs and Border Protection refers to as secondary screening. He expected a quick check to confirm his identity, but instead was held for hours, past midnight. “I feel like my rights were violated,” Officer Ali recounted to the New York Times. “Are you telling me that every guy with the last name Ali is a terrorist? Are you telling me every guy with brown skin coming in from overseas is a terrorist?”
Officer Ali’s Istanbul trip was a needed vacation after a two-year military deployment to Kuwait, where he had served in Operation Inherent Resolve — the unit that combats ISIS. He is scheduled to return to NYPD this fall.
Justin Cox is a lawyer at the National Immigration Law Center who is providing legal aid and monitors the treatment of Muslims at airports. “There’s no one who you would think should be able to sail through immigration at the airport more than Syed. None of that mattered because he’s brown and Muslim.”