About a month after Muhammad Ali’s son was detained for hours by immigration officials at a Florida airport, Muhammad Ali Jr. testified before Congress on Thursday, lobbying to end racial profiling.
Then, on Friday, while trying to board a flight from Washington’s Reagan Airport to Fort Lauderdale, Ali was stopped again by airport officials as he attempted to board a flight. Ali’s lawyer Chris Mancini told the New York Daily News that Ali was stopped and questioned for about 20 minutes.
Said Mancini: “Quite obviously, he’s now been put on a different status” after testifying before Congress.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) also happened to be on the flight and snapped a photo with Ali.
She said, via Death and Taxes, that he was not allowed to board with his Illinois driver’s license and had to produce his U.S. passport before he could board, even though this was a domestic flight.
“The really troubling thing is that his record was flagged when he stepped up to the ticket counter and they said they had to call the Department of Homeland Security before he could even proceed to the TSA line, which is absolutely unacceptable,” she said.
When Ali was stopped in February after returning to the U.S. from Jamaica, he and his mother were detained, because, as Mancini said, their last names sounded Arabic. Ali, who was born in Philadelphia, was then questioned for two hours, as immigration officials reportedly asked him if he was Muslim and “Where did you get your name from?”
On Friday, officials again asked Ali where he was from but apparently didn’t ask about his religion, according to Mancini.
The TSA told the Louisville Courier Journal on Friday that Ali was not detained but that, after he walked to the check-in counter, “a call was made to confirm Mr. Ali’s identity with TSA officials.” Eleven minutes later, he was cleared and sent to the TSA security checkpoint. Then, Ali’s “large jewelry” set off a scanner, and he had to be patted down by offiicals. Seven minutes later, the TSA said, he was released.
But Mancini called that story a “pack full of lies,” saying Ali had to talk to the Department of Homeland Security on the phone for about 20 minutes before he could proceed to security.
“It was either sloppy, suspect, or designed to keep him from boarding,” Mancini told the Courier Journal.
On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order on Monday, banning the issuance of visas to residents of six Muslim-majority countries