NASA scientist caught up by travel ban

David M. Palmer
Senior Staff Writer

A U.S.-born scientist from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found himself entangled in the Trump administrations travel ban, claiming he was forced by border agents to hand over his cell phone and pin code while at an airport in Houston.
On Jan. 30, Sidd Bikkannavar said he was stopped and detained at the international airport in Houston several days after President Donald J. Trump signed legislation to restrict travel from counties with a majority Muslim population by way of executive order.
Bikkannavar was on the return leg of a trip to Santiago, Chile after spending downtime from his job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Patagonia, where Bikkannavar was racing solar powered racecars, reports Yahoo! News.
When he attempted to reenter the country via custom in the Houston airport, Bikkannavar was taken aside and told he must hand over his cell phone to border agents as well as the pin code to access the device.
The detention came as a surprise to Bakkannavar, who holds a Global Entry passport. The specially permitted passport document was created by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the purpose of expediting clearance for travelers like Bakkannavar, who have been deemed by the U.S. government to be low-risk travelers.