Last week immigration and border patrol officers broke the law by forcing all passengers on a domestic flight from San Francisco to NYC to show their IDs before disembarking. “Before passengers even stepped onto the jet bridge, they were met by two officers from CBP” (Huffington Post). “The incident comes as the Trump administration cracks down on border security and intensifies deportations of people in the U.S. without proper documentation” (Charlotte Observer). This was a violation not only of the law but of the personal rights/freedoms of every American on that plane.
So, for information purposes, if you are an American citizen, you do NOT have to show your ID when it is requested of you by either Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs Border Protection (CBP). They can request from you “voluntary cooperation” to show your ID, but you are not bound to comply. The following text represents the law:
The ICE authorizing statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1357, provides that agents can conduct warrantless searches of “ANY PERSON SEEKING ADMISSION TO THE UNITED STATES”—if, that is, the officer has “REASONABLE CAUSE TO SUSPECT” that the individual searched may be deportable. CBP’s statute, 19 U.S.C. § 1467, grants search authority “WHENEVER A VESSEL FROM A FOREIGN PORT OR PLACE, OR FROM A PORT OR PLACE IN ANY TERRITORY OR POSSESSION OF THE UNITED STATES, ARRIVES AT A PORT OR PLACE IN THE UNITED STATES.” CBP regulations, set out at 19 C.F.R. § 162.6, allow agents to search “PERSONS, BAGGAGE, AND MERCHANDISE ARRIVING IN THE CUSTOMS TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES FROM PLACES OUTSIDE THEREOF.”
The PDF document BELOW, if printed, will provide a credit card sized reproduction of the above text to be kept in your wallet or purse. Carry it with you. Be informed.
Do not allow fascism to overrun our democracy. We still live in a free America (for now). This is not yet Nazi Germany. There is no legal reason for any American citizen to have to show their “papers.”
ice_bcp <- PRINTABLE PDF WALLET-SIZED LAW
I looked into this event a bit more since first publishing, and from my understanding of both case law & current regulations over both ICE/CBP, it was indeed “illegal” (i.e., going outside the laws governing the authority of ICE/CBP). These agencies have the authority to ask suspected illegals for their ID & specific other persons for their IDs (if it is reasonably suspected that such persons may be deportable). BUT they cannot, as I understand it, indiscriminately “search” non-suspected persons. I also spoke to a fairly prominent attorney friend of mine in NYC about this event, and she said the actions were indeed legally challengeable.
For all readers, please note that I am NOT saying it was illegal for ICE/CBP to make the “request” of the passengers. Again, please hear me…. it was NOT illegal for ICE/CBP to make a request for voluntary production of ID for inspection . What was illegal was how ICE/CBP framed their so-called “request.” It was framed as more of an either you show us your ID, or you do not disembark order. It was basically intimidation & forced volunteerism. THIS is the issue.
HOW this search was done…
WHEN this search was done…
WHERE this search was done, and…
WHY this search was done…
… fall under the umbrella of unorthodox. A New York Magazine article () covering the story called the ICE/BCP move “unusual.” And a NY Civil Liberties Attorney quoted in this same article referred to the “dragnet” as “alarming” (see Customs Agents Check Passengers’ IDs on Domestic Flight at JFK)