The son of legendary heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali and his mother, Ali’s second wife Khalilah Camacho-Ali, have been detained for a second time by the American Department of Homeland Security.
Muhammad Ali Jr. was first detained with his mother in Florida after returning from Jamaica in February, where they were speaking at a Black History Month event. Customs and Border Protection have denied detaining the pair on that occasion, but on Thursday Ali testified in Washington at a Democratic forum on the Trump administration’s immigration policies, called “Ali v. Trump: The Fight for American Values“, that he was targeted by the CBP, saying:
“I believe they were religiously and racially profiling me.”
On that occasion, it’s believed that Ali Jr. and Camacho-Ali were detained for their “Arabic-sounding names“, according to a family spokesman.
But this time, when the mother and son were detained at Reagan National Airport in Washington, directly after participating in anti-discrimination lobbying, it seems something more sinister may have been at play.
Ali Jr.’s lawyer, Chris Mancini, said that Ali Jr. had “quite obviously” been “put on a different status,” i.e. a watch list, that alerts border officials to his movements. He told the Associated Press:
“Going to Washington obviously opened up a can of worms at DHS.”
According to Mancini, DHS officials didn’t believe that Ali Jr. was actually Muhammad Ali’s son, despite his valid ID; they then detained him for 20 to 25 minutes while repeatedly asking him where he was from.
All of which is hard to disentangle from the fact that US President Donald Trump‘s so-called “Muslim ban” – the executive order banning travellers from a number of countries for 90 days – has appeared to empower American border protection officials to the detriment of pretty much everyone else.
A prominent Democrat happened to be on the same flight as Ali Jr., and provided this apt comment:
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) March 10, 2017
The fact that Ali Jr. and his mother were detained while coming home from lobbying for the introduction of an anti-racial and religious profiling act is only the icing on this whole tragic, baffling cake.
Image: Chip Somodevilla / Getty.