Through utilisation of the federal No-Fly list, authorities are increasingly subjecting individuals to de facto exile.
On January 2, 2005, Rahinah Ibrahim, a PhD student in Construction Management and Engineering at Stanford University, arrived at San Francisco International Airport to board a scheduled international flight en route to Malaysia. Ibrahim was slated to attend a Stanford-sponsored conference in the country to present findings from her doctoral research; a trip she was taking despite being wheelchair-bound due to complications from a recent hysterectomy.
However instead of boarding her flight, Ibrahim found herself in handcuffs – detained by the San Francisco Police Department before being searched and locked in a holding cell by TSA agents without explanation as to the reason for her arrest. After being interrogated for several hours by the FBI it was revealed that she had been placed – for reasons not revealed to her – on a No-Fly list which prevented her from routinely boarding her flight. Despite this Ibrahim was cleared by the agents of being a security risk, assured there would be no future problems, and allowed to board a flight for Malaysia the following day.
However upon attempting to return to the United States after her trip, Ibrahim found herself again detained and prevented from boarding her flight by local authorities who had received instructions from the US Consulate that she was to be barred from returning home.
It has now been eight years and Ibrahim has still not been allowed to return to the United States, banished based on secret evidence which she is unable to view let alone contest and trapped in a Kafkaesque legal limbo which has made her an effective exile from the country.