If someone with an outstanding warrant in the USA attempted to fly to a US destination from a Canadian airport with pre-clearance capabilities (i.e. passengers are screened for admissibility to the USA by a USCBP agent PRIOR to boarding the flight in Canada), would they be:

a) allowed to proceed without incident; USCPB doesn't search for open warrants
b) allowed entry but possibly arrested upon landing/deboarding at their US destination (ambushed)
c) denied entry, or
d) taken into custody at the airport? (presumably by Canadian authorities).

In other words, is an outstanding warrant grounds for inadmissibility, and can US Customs have someone detained/arrested in an airport OUTSIDE THE US?

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    Does it matter? Regardless of the exact process, attempting to take this flight is a one-way ticket to jail. – Michael Hampton Nov 12 '18 at 14:26
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    @MichaelHampton: Options (a) and (c) don't lead to arrest, so if you think those are unlikely, maybe you should explain why. – Nate Eldredge Nov 12 '18 at 14:30
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    @NateEldredge Because USCBP does check for warrants, neither A nor C is realistic. – Michael Hampton Nov 12 '18 at 14:33
  • Whether Canadian (or other local) authorities would arrest the person surely depends on the nature of the warrant and the alleged crime and possibly on whether the person is Canadian (or has local nationality). – phoog Nov 12 '18 at 14:49
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    @MichaelHampton I agree that CBP is alerted if an arrest warrant exists for an incoming passenger. However, it isn't certain that boarding will be refused, nor that any other police agency will get the information, nor that the passenger would be arrested on arrival even if permitted to fly. Low-bail out-of-state-or-district warrants are often or usually ignored by issuing authorities because the cost of retrieving the arrestee is too high: holding and transporting an arrested person is not cheap. Having an outstanding warrant is a risk, but not a certain arrest or denial of entry. – DavidSupportsMonica Nov 12 '18 at 15:54

First, US CBP does check warrants and second, US CBP has the authority in Canada and most likely other locales) to detain someone while they conduct an inspection.

Note that some warrants are very minor - missing payment on a traffic ticket. Some are major - skipping out on a murder trial. And there are local, state, and federal warrants. You need to have the bad fortune of either committing a serious enough local crime to be put into NCIC or a state or federal crime which are automatically sucked into the national crime database.

If you trip the warrant detection system, I’d imagine you’d be detained until the relevant authorities are contacted and they decide whether to extradite you or release you. Since extradition costs money, paperwork, and time (days), it’s more than likely that for most minor things that you’ll be put back on the flight or a later flight - where depending on the circumstances you might get re-arrested on arrival in the physical USA. Even if you have a minor warrant, I’d expect that if you’re flying back to the jurisdiction the arrest warrant was issued in, the CBP agent would give those authorities a courtesy phone call.

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    Nothing in the article you link to or the Preclearance Act that it concerns suggests that the US is maintaining holding cells in Canada. On the contrary, it requires preclearance officers to deliver a detained person into the custody of a (Canadian) police officer or border services officer "as soon as feasible." Since airports are usually well staffed with police and border services officers, it seems unlikely that holding cells would be necessary or even useful. – phoog Nov 12 '18 at 16:35
  • Rephrased to make it clearer that the holding cells might not be operated by the USA – RoboKaren Nov 12 '18 at 17:02
  • What about in Ireland or the UAE? – Crazydre Feb 11 at 0:09
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    @Crazydre I think it very unlikely that there would be any significant difference at preclearance in any other country. – Michael Hampton Feb 11 at 4:00

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