One day after the son of famed boxer Muhammad Ali testified before Congress on the consequences of the Trump administration's immigration ban, he was stopped by Reagan National Airport officials in Washington, D.C. on Friday, according to his lawyer, Chris Mancini, who was traveling with Muhammad Ali Jr. at the time.
The entire episode lasted between 20 and 25 minutes. “This whole thing smacks of some sort of retaliation for his testimony,” his lawyer said.
The incident occurred after Muhammad Ali Jr. gave his Illinois identification card to a JetBlue agent to obtain his boarding pass. Almost immediately, Ali was told there was a problem and the agent needed to call the Department of Homeland Security, according to the New York Times.
After answering questions about his date and location of his birth, as well as his Social Security number, he was told that his Illinois-based ID was invalid for flying despite it not expiring until 2019.
WATCH | Muhammad Ali Jr. testifies before Congress on Thursday
“The same state ID from Illinois that he traveled to Washington on was rejected,” Mr. Mancini said in an interview on Friday night. Mr. Ali then produced his United States passport, which was accepted, and went through security and boarded the flight with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, and Mancini.
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted about the incident.
The former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee was referring to Ali's detainment in early February at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The Transportation Security Administration disputed that the holdup lasted long and said Ali's jewelry caused a seven-minute delay at the security checkpoint.
“Upon arriving at the airline check-in counter, a call was made to confirm Mr. Ali’s identity with T.S.A. officials,” the agency said. “When Mr. Ali arrived at the checkpoint, his large jewelry alarmed the checkpoint scanner. He received a targeted pat-down in the area of his jewelry to clear the alarm and was cleared to catch his flight.”
Ali's lawyer remained puzzled about the agency's statement because Ali didn't complain about the events that took place at security, only what happened at check-in.
“They are making up stories,” Mancini said. “We have never said anything about anything happening after he left the ticket counter.”
He added that he plans on filing a complaint with DHS and was "working toward a lawsuit."