Sidd Bikkannavar, a natural-born American citizen, said he was detained at Houston's international airport on Jan. 30, just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Bikkannavar, who works in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was on his way back from Santiago, Chile, he told The Verge in an interview published Sunday.
The engineer moonlights as a driver of solar-powered racing cars, and he'd spent the last couple of weeks at a race in Patagonia.
Bikkannavar probably expected to breeze through the immigration and customs process at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. After all, the U.S. passport holder is part of Global Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for "pre-approved, low-risk travelers."
Instead, CBP officers pulled him aside and demanded that he turn over his work-issued phone and access PIN code, Bikkannavar first described in a Feb. 5 Facebook post.
Mashable has contacted Bikkannavar, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and will update this story with any responses.