Mohamed Khairullah
Mohamed Khairullah with his daughter. | Photo: Viorel Florescu/

Muslim American Mayor Mohamed Khairullah Detained, Questioned for Three Hours at JFK Airport

Prospect Park, New Jersey Mayor Mohamed Khairullah was traveling through JFK International Airport last month with his family after a vacation in Turkey. Khairullah, who is Muslim American, told CNN he was detained for three hours and questioned about his travels.

He was traveling with his wife, 10-year-old son, 9-year-old and 2-year-old daughters and 14-month-old son.

A border patrol agent told him that he was picked at random for questioning and then later outright asked him: “Did you meet with any terrorists?”

“In the office, the agent did say that he was directed by DHS to interview me but he couldn’t tell me why,” Khairullah told CNN. “I’d love to know what the reason was.”

Mayor Khairullah said he gave a polite, “No,” before asking to speak with a lawyer, believing the line of questioning was “harassment.” When he tried to end the interview, the agent searched his phone and then confiscated it when Khairullah asked for it back.

Related Article: El Paso Shooting Victims Drove Home Out of Fear of ICE Agents at Hospitals

Border patrol kept the American’s phone for 12 days.

The mayor’s lawyer is calling the incident “a clear case of profiling” and that Khairullah was “treated as if he was a terrorist in this situation.” Khairullah might pursue legal action against boder patrol, and he’s not the only one.

In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, the CBP, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, arguing that searching and confiscating electronic devices like cell phones at the border without reasonable suspicion or a warrant is unconstitutional.

Hugh Handeyside, an ACLU staff attorney for the plaintiffs in that particular lawsuit, told CNN that some of his clients had their phones confiscated by CBP for “six to eight months.” Border patrol has confiscated 172 electronic devices in 2018 and searched 33,295.

Latest News

WOCA 2022 Research: How to Improve Representation of Women of Color in the Workplace 

Capital One and DiversityInc shared the results of their collaborative research report on women of color in the workplace at the 2022 annual Women of Color and Their Allies event held in Louisville on Sept. 21 in conjunction with Humana. Dr. Chris Parker, Head of Research & Data, DiversityInc, confirmed…

WOCA 2022: Executive Leaders Share Stories of Allyship for Women of Color

One of the best indicators of an organization’s success around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is leadership accountability for DEI. At our 2022 Women of Color and Their Allies event, DiversityInc’s Head of Strategic Partnerships, Anita Ricketts, was joined on stage by leaders who are holding themselves and their contemporaries…

The Dollar Divide

Too Poor to Die: The Rising Cost of Funerals 

Death is expensive.  For more than two decades, I have extensively written and reported about money-related content and even I was surprised at the cost of my mother’s funeral.  The median cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial is approximately $7,848. That doesn’t include the cost of the…

Video: How Companies Are Ensuring Equity for People With Disabilities

The National Organization on Disability held its annual forum in Washington, D.C. last week, bringing together community leaders, advocates, government officials and corporate leaders and influencers to focus on the advancement of people with disabilities in the workplace. DiversityInc also met up with leaders from Capital One Financial (No. 22…

Validated Allies wallpaper

DiversityInc Announces 2022 Validated Allies

Allyship is a journey rather than a destination. The work of an ally never really ends and allies understand they are not necessarily always working toward a goal, but rather, serving a greater purpose. Each year, as part of our Women of Color and Their Allies event, DiversityInc recognizes a…

CDO Series: Sysco’s Adrienne Trimble

Following the murder of George Floyd, the role of Chief Diversity Officers has become more important as companies started to be more intentional with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which has made the last few years tumultuous for many CDOs. In the latest installment of a series of articles…