Since the advent of Donald Trump's presidency in January, foreigners and Americans citizens alike have reported facing increased scrutiny at customs and immigration checkpoints when entering the United States. Recently, Hassan Aden, who is a former police chief and an American citizen, was subject to this increased scrutiny as he made his way back from France via New York's John F. Kennedy airport. Hassan's story is receiving a great deal of attention due to his career as a high-profile U.S. law enforcement officer as well as because of his impassioned reporting of the story in a widely-shared Facebook post.
Aden is the former police chief of Greenville, South Carolina, and former deputy police chief of Alexandria, Virginia. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in the country for 42 years, after immigrating from Italy when he was 10 years old.
Aden first shared the details of his interaction with customs officials at JFK on his Facebook page on Saturday. In a lengthy post, Aden, a frequent traveler, reported that he was returning to the United States from Paris after celebrating his mother's 80th birthday in the city. Instead of quickly passing through U.S. customs and being welcomed back into the country, as is typical, Aden alleged that a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official requested that he follow him to a back office. Once in the office, Aden was allegedly informed that his name was being used as an alias by someone on a watch list and that officials would need to clear him to enter the United States.
Aden then reported that he subsequently spent nearly an hour-and-a-half in the office while customs officials sought to ensure he was clear for entry, which eventually occurred. Aden characterized this experience as non-voluntary "detention" and believed it was unreasonable and intrusive.
In addition to allegedly taking an exorbitant amount of time, Aden also reported that he found his experience with U.S. customs emotionally scarring and that he was concerned about what others will experience when they try to enter the United States in the future. In regards to the former notion, Aden lamented that if even he, with 30 years of law enforcement and government experience, faced this type of interaction with U.S. customs officials, then it could "happen to anyone with attributes that can be 'profiled.' No one is safe from this type of unlawful government intrusion."
Furthermore, Aden expressed despondency at what he feels is the current state of affairs in the United States, poignantly saying,
Aden's Facebook post was shared nearly 6,000 times and the story is also receiving a great deal of attention in the news media, with many social media users expressing surprise at the occurrence and offering words of comfort to Aden. In a follow-up telephone interview with ABC News, Aden further expressed that he supports U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officers, however he feels that his alleged 90 minutes of detention were "unreasonable" and made it feel "like he was in custody." For their part, U.S. customs officials have offered no comment, saying they cannot discuss individual cases.