The mayor of Prospect Park, N.J., said that he was profiled at an airport and questioned due to being Muslim by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.
Mohamed Khairullah told NorthJersey.com that he was held for hours at JFK International Airport in New York and questioned about his travels overseas and specifically whether he visited any “terrorist cells” or met with any “terrorists.”
“It’s flat-out insulting,” Khairullah said. “It’s flat-out stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs.”
“It was definitely a hurtful moment where I’m thinking in my mind that this is not the America that I know,” he continued. “I am very familiar with our laws and Constitution, and everything that was going on there was a violation.”
A CBP spokesperson would not comment on Khairullah’s situation to The Hill, but confirmed that some travelers could have their electronic devices temporarily confiscated.
“While we are not at liberty to discuss an individual’s processing due to the Privacy Act, our CBP officers are charged with enforcing not only immigration and customs laws, but they also enforce over 400 laws for 40 other agencies and have stopped thousands of violators of U.S. law,” a spokesperson said.
“For a minuscule number of travelers, this inspection may include electronic devices such as computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music and other media players and any other electronic or digital devices. CBP is keeping Americans safe by enforcing our nation’s laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully inspect all materials—electronic or otherwise—entering the United States,” the spokesperson added.
Khairullah told NorthJersey.com that agents told him that his questioning was part of a random stop and also included questions about his past history such as his college studies and his mother’s name.
His phone was also taken by agents who later returned it after intervention from an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a major advocacy group.
CAIR’s litigation director Ahmed Mohamed slammed CBP in a statement to NorthJersey.com, accusing the agency of ignoring the need for “reasonable suspicion” to conduct searches.
“CBP believes they can do what they want at the border, but even their own policies say there needs to be reasonable suspicion to do an intrusive search of the phone,” he said.