On 8 May, while driving home to Chicago from a trip to Canada, a Chicago businessman was held at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border checkpoint by the Department of Homeland Security, where he says he was shackled to a chair for over three hours, repeatedly kicked while being searched, and isolated from his family for over six hours, over a case of mistaken identity.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has filed suit (PDF) on behalf of Akif Rahman, a natural-born US citizen. Rahman who lives in Wheaton, Ill., a Chicago suburb, says that this has happened four times before, and that the Department of Homeland Stupidity knew beforehand that it was a case of mistaken identity.
After the first few detentions, Mr. Rahman contacted several governmental agencies and filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests in order to learn why he was being subjected to these detentions and harassment. In April 2005, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency of DHS wrote to Mr. Rahman indicating that his problem was “the direct result of an unfortunate misidentification scenario.” The ICE official told Mr. Rahman that they had taken steps to correct government databases in order to address the situation and advised him to carry multiple forms of identification when traveling abroad. Mr. Rahman always carried such identification — including a passport, driver’s license and Social Security card — when he was detained by DHS officers. Mr. Rahman’s name is as universally common as “John Smith.” — ACLU press release
A DHS spokesperson said that the department does not comment on pending litigation.
Obviously they didn’t do enough, or this person would not have been detained again and mistreated at the Detroit checkpoint. Just remember, if a name even remotely similar to yours ever gets into a government watchlist, this could be happening to you. Are you a terrorist? Yeah, that’s what I thought.