One day after speaking with members of Congress about his experience being detained at an airport last month, Muhammad Ali Jr. was briefly stopped from boarding his flight home.
According to an account of the incident that his lawyer gave to the New York Times, Ali presented his Illinois identification to an airline agent in order to get his boarding pass for a flight from Washington, D.C. to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. As soon as the agent saw his ID, he told Ali that there was a problem and he would be calling the Department of Homeland Security. After being asked for personal information including place of birth and Social Security number, Ali was told that his state ID card was not valid for flying even though it will not expire for several years and he had used the card to fly without issue as recently as two days before. (The standards for Illinois identification cards like Ali’s, which are not driver’s licenses, have been the subject of controversy with Homeland Security, but the department announced last year that they would be accepted for flying at least through 2018.) He was allowed to board the flight after presenting his United States passport.
This happened just more than a month after Ali was detained at a Florida airport and asked about his religion and the origin of his name. Ali was in Washington, D.C. this week to share that experience with members of Congress as part of a forum about President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
The TSA gave a statement refuting the version of events given by Ali’s lawyer and focusing instead on the security pat-down Ali received later, claiming that he was only stopped on Friday because of “his large jewelry.” The Times noted that a spokesman “did not immediately respond to a question about what prompted the additional scrutiny of Mr. Ali’s identification.”