Immigration officials in Florida proved how out of control things are in Trump’s America by detaining the son of Muhammad Ali because his name happens to sound too Muslim for their liking.
Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, were on their way home after speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. On Feb. 7, they flew into Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And then things took a disturbing turn.
Chris Mancini, a lawyer and friend of the family says they were pulled to the side as they were going through customs. Khalilah Camacho-Ali was released when she pulled out a photo of her with the legendary boxer, but Muhammad Ali Jr. didn’t have such a photo. Apparently, being related to a famous person would have meant more to officials than the fact that he’s an American citizen with a U.S. passport to prove it.
Ali Jr. was held by immigration officials and questioned for almost two hours. “Where did you get your name from?” they asked him over and over. When they asked him if he was a Muslim, he said yes, and that really set off alarm bells for officials. They continued to question him about his religion and repeatedly asked him where he was born. Just for the record, he was born in Philadelphia in 1971.
While Ali Jr. was detained, Camacho-Ali ran around the airport asking, “Where’s my son?” and begging for help, according to Mancini. Because incidents involving customs officials are considered to be on federal soil, local police had no jurisdiction to help her. Ali Jr. was eventually released two hours later, and the family contacted Mancini the following day.
They have both traveled all over the world and never, ever, have they been subjected to this kind of treatment, said Mancini. “To the Ali family, it’s crystal clear that this is directly linked to Mr. Trump’s efforts to ban Muslims from the United States,” he added.
“Imagine walking into an airport and being asked about your religion,” he said. “This is classic customs profiling.”
According to Mancini, the Ali family is debating whether or not to file a federal lawsuit and are searching for others who have been subjected to this kind of racial profiling and harassment.
Featured image via Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research