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Retired Police Chief 'Unsure About Future of US' After Airport Detention

FILE - Passengers make their way in a security checkpoint at the International JFK airport in New York.
FILE - Passengers make their way in a security checkpoint at the International JFK airport in New York.

A former U.S. police chief says he is "feeling vulnerable and unsure of the future of a country that was once great" after being detained for 90 minutes at New York's JFK Airport.

Hassan Aden has been a naturalized U.S. citizen since age 10, and is the son of an Italian mother and Somali father.

Aden returned from Paris on March 13 and said he was pulled aside while going through customs. An officer told him his name was the same as an alias used by someone on a watch list, and that his information was being checked with another agency before he could be cleared.

Aden described in a Facebook post what he said was watching at least 25 foreign nationals having their passports checked for about 5 minutes before they were released, and that when he complained about the length of his detention he was told he was not being detained.

"I was in a room with no access to my mobile phone to communicate with my wife and family about what was happening, my movements were restricted to a chair and they had my passport ... and they had the audacity to tell me I was not being detained," Aden wrote.

He said that as a former law enforcement officer, he understands a "reasonable investigative detention" if certain criteria are met. But he wonders if "fear and detention" are the new mission for Customs and Border Patrol.

The CBP has said it does not comment on individual cases.

People's experiences at U.S. airports have been particularly in focus since President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning new visas to people from seven countries and suspending the nation's refugee admittance program.

A federal court blocked the government from enforcing the ban, and after Trump issued a revised order, another court blocked that, too. The president says the measure is necessary to protect national security.

The initial order caused confusion at airports as customs officials were unsure of how to apply the rules, particularly to people who already had a visa. A number of flyers were detained and for times blocked from being able to see a lawyer.

Earlier this month, Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, reported being detained and questioned at two different airports.

At an airport in Florida, Ali said officials repeatedly asked him "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"

He was stopped the second time a day after testifying to Congress about the first incident.

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