Sylvia Acosta made a career for herself before getting married and having kids.
She's one of many moms in the U.S. with a different last name from her children.
But Acosta says that explanation didn't fly at first with a customs officer at DFW international Airport over the weekend. She wrote a Facebook post detailing her exchange with the customs officer upon reentering the U.S. with her 15-year-old daughter following a trip to Europe.
"I told them I had already established my career and earned my doctorate with my last name Acosta so I had decided not to change it," she wrote in the Facebook post. "Then the customs office said, well maybe you should have taken your husbands last name so you could prove you were her mom."
She wrote in the post that she was separated from her daughter by customs officials and both were asked to prove that they were related.
According to her employer, the YWCA of El Paso, her husband's name is Joe Graham, and her two children are named Sybonae Acosta Castillo and Alexander Graham. Acosta serves as the nonprofit organization's CEO.
"I then proceeded to tell them that they were perpetuating an institutionalized misogynistic system which required that a woman take her husbands name," Acosta wrote. "I am furious."
The El Paso Times obtained a written statement from Customs and Border Protection, which says that officials there reviewed audio and video footage of the incident at DFW and that footage "does not support the claim as it has been reported."
"The audio and video prove that there weren't any inappropriate questions discussed," the statement continues.
Since 2008, questions about why two family members flying together have different last names are appropriate for customs officers to ask, according to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
"In instances where the relationship of a minor and accompanying adult can't be immediately determined, CBP may ask additional questions to determine relationship," the statement read. "CBP strongly recommends that unless a child is accompanied by both parents, the adult traveling with the child have a note from the child's other parent."
As of Tuesday morning, Acosta's Facebook post has been shared more than 16,000 times. She told Texas Monthly she was even further infuriated by the CBP response and plans to file a formal complaint against the officer.
"I know what happened," she told the magazine. "My daughter knows what happened. I didn't go to U.S. Customs and Border Protection [Sunday] wanting to have a social justice moment. I just wanted to get home."