A Democratic mayor from New Jersey who had his invitation to a White House event pulled still plans to support President Joe Biden for re-election but wants help fixing the problem of systemic profiling that caused the U.S. Secret Service to refuse his admission.
Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, the longest-serving Muslim mayor in the nation, was invited last month to be at the White House for an Eid al-Fitr celebration but was disinvited just before the event.
Khairullah told the New Jersey Globe that he still hasn’t received an explanation.
“You get nothing out of them,” he said. “That’s the problem.”
Instead, he learned from the Council on American-Islamic Relations that he was a “vague, secret, watch list.”
“This isn’t Iran. This isn’t North Korea. It’s the United States of America,” Khairullah said. “It’s humiliating when it happens.”
At a briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to explain why the Democratic mayor was refused admittance to the White House.
Khairullah wouldn’t mind a meeting or phone call with Biden, “as long as we discuss the list.”
“I would like to discuss this topic. I don’t need to be celebrated, I need to be heard. Khairullah said. “Somebody decided to put me on the list. There’s no due process.”
He acknowledged that the list was created in 2019 — before Biden took office.
New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-Paterson) have sent a letter to the U.S. Secret Service and the White House Social Secretary, Carlo Elizondo, asking for an explanation.
“We also urge you to provide Mayor Khairullah with the substantive reasons he was denied admission, and urge you to initiate a review of Mayor Khairullah’s status so that in the future he may be able to attend events and represent his constituents at the People’s House,” the three lawmakers said.
New Jersey Democratic State Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. said that a new invitation from the President “would be a tremendous gesture.”
Jones, who led the fight against racial profiling by the New Jersey State Police while serving in the state legislature in the 1990s, said he was angered by the way Khairullah was treated on Monday.
“I have the greatest respect for the mayor,” Jones said. “To see that still be an issue in 2023 is disturbing.”
It’s possible that the New Jersey Democrats will force the Secret Services hand in fixing Khairullah’s issue: Jones has not precluded the possibility that the longtime mayor will be invited to serve as a delegate to the 2024 Democratic National Convention, pledged to Biden.
“He has the moral fiber to be a member of the New Jersey delegation.”