A retired police chief from North Carolina was detained by Customs and Border Patrol agents upon returning back from a trip to Paris for his mother’s birthday. Hassan Aden, who served in the Greenville Police Department, was stopped because of his name.
He detailed his experience on his personal Facebook page, saying he is usually greeted politely and welcomed “home,” but instead he was asked to “take a walk” by CBP agents.
I was taken to a back office which looked to be a re-purposed storage facility with three desks and signs stating, “Remain seated at all times” and “Use of telephones strictly prohibited” – my first sign that this was not a voluntary situation and, in fact, a detention. By this point I had informed CBP Officer Chow, the one that initially detained me, that I was a retired police chief and a career police officer AND a US citizen-he stated that he had no control over the circumstance and that it didn’t matter what my occupation was. He handed my passport off to another CBP officer who was working at one of the desks. The second CBP officer was indeed kind and appreciated the fact that I was a career police officer and tried to be helpful. He explained that my name was used as an alias by someone on some watch list. He stated that he sent my information to another agency to de-conflict and clear me, so that I could gain passage into the United States….my own country!!!
Aden says he saw about 25 foreign nationals come in and be processed out of the office in what he calls “reasonable and appropriate” detentions last around five minutes. When expressed his concerns to a man identified as CBP Officer Chow, the officer said he was not being detained, despite the fact that he clearly was.
“His ignorance of the law and the Fourth Amendment should disqualify him from being able to wear a CBP badge – but maybe fear and detention is the new mission of the CBP and the Constitution is a mere suggestion,” Aden wrote.
Eventually a female CBP officer “who had just started her shift” took action, pressuring the agency to clear Aden. She was eventually able to get the U.S. citizen cleared after what he says was a 90-minute detention.
Today Aden works for a criminal justice reform consulting firm, which he noted in closing:
I interface with high level U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Court officials almost daily. Prior to this administration, I frequently attended meetings at the White House and advised on national police policy reforms-all that to say that If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone with attributes that can be “profiled”. No one is safe from this type of unlawful government intrusion.
At the time of this right, neither the Department of Homeland Security or Customs and Border Patrol commented on this incident.
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