Politics

Reporter Says Her Trinidadian Husband Was Detained at Fort Lauderale Airport Last Night

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport tateyama / Shutterstock.com
Donald Trump's travel ban last week was directed at seven majority-Muslim countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan. Trinidad, which sits seven miles off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean, is nowhere near any of those nations.

That fact, however, apparently did not stop customs agents from stopping a Trinidadian man — the husband of a prominent reporter — at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport yesterday. Stacy-Marie Ishmael, a former reporter for BuzzFeed and the Financial Times, said on Twitter around 9 p.m. yesterday that her husband had been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Frighteningly, she claimed Border Patrol agents said her husband could not see a lawyer.

Ishmael declined to speak to New Times last night. At the moment, it's unclear exactly why Border Patrol stopped her husband or if President Trump's recent executive order was cited during the stop.

"CBP says he has 'no right to counsel,'" she wrote. Given the fact that Trinidadians are in no way supposed to be affected by Trump's travel ban, the case could have frightening implications for the way law enforcement officers are imposing the president's immigration restrictions.
One of the lawyers involved said online last night that cops threatened to handcuff Ishmael's legal counsel:
Thankfully, she said her husband was released at 9:15 last night. But she said Border Patrol agents asked her husband what his ethnicity was and "how he got his name."

She then chalked the experience up to #TravelingWhileBrown — that is, experiencing absurd racism when simply trying to fly.
Many immigration advocates have feared Trump's travel restrictions could expand and eventually affect other majority black, brown, or Muslim communities. At the moment, it's unclear why Ishmael's husband was detained.

New Times has reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for more information about the incident, but thus far the agency hasn't responded.

Update: A Border Patrol spokesperson declined to comment, adding that doing so would violate the federal Privacy Act of 1974.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.