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American Citizen, NYPD Cop, Combat Veteran Detained for Hours at JFK, Threatened by CBP

May 16, 2017 (1 min read)

Nicholas Kulish, New York Times, May 15, 2017 - "Syed Ali is an American citizen, an officer in the New York Police Department, a combat veteran and a major in the United States Army Reserve. But none of that made a difference at passport control last month when he arrived at Kennedy Airport on an evening flight from Istanbul.

After landing, Officer Ali was led from passport control to a holding area for what Customs and Border Protection refers to as secondary screening. But instead of a quick check to confirm his identity, Officer Ali said, he was held for hours, past midnight. When he asked, after more than an hour of waiting, whether it would take much longer, an officer threatened to incarcerate him, he said. “If you can’t sit patiently, I can gain compliance from you by putting you in a detainment cell,” he recalled a Customs and Border Protection officer’s telling him.
“I feel like my rights were violated,” Officer Ali said in an interview, still sounding a little shaken. “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 said his feeling of powerlessness in airport custody “was one of the lowest points in my life.” “I’ve dedicated my life to public service,” he said. “I want my country to treat me fairly, too.” "