(CNN)A Muslim-American mayor of a New Jersey town says border patrol agents wrongfully detained him and kept his phone when he arrived at JFK International Airport last month after returning from a vacation in Turkey.
Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey since 2005, told CNN he was pulled aside and detained for three hours by US Customs and Border Protection agents when he and his family got off the plane.
The questioning started out innocently enough — a CBP agent asked him standard questions like about where he traveled from and who he visited. Then, according to Khairullah, the agent pivoted: "Did you meet with any terrorists?"
Mayor Khairullah said he gave a polite, "No," before asking to speak with a lawyer, believing the line of questioning was "harassment."
When he requested to end the interview, the mayor recalled the agent asked to search his phone.
Khairullah consented, but as the search dragged on, with his family — wife, 10-year-old son, 9-year-old and 2-year-old daughters, and 14-month-old son — getting restless waiting for him in the area outside the interview room, he asked for his phone to be returned.
He said the agent informed him that if he was revoking his consent for them to search his device then they would have to confiscate it.
And so they did -- for 12 days.
Papers please is a reality for some of us in the US. Much like it was in Nazi Germany and the USSR. Sad how we repeat our past without learning from it.