A few days ago, an editor at Vice tweeted a photo of what appears to be a CBP or ICE agent inspecting the documentation of individual passengers disembarking a flight. The caption states that it was a domestic flight from San Francisco to JFK, and that passengers "were told we couldn't disembark without showing our 'documents'". This has caused a bit of a splash, with some questioning the legality and prudence of the action.
I fly domestically quite frequently. In the event that I encounter a similar situation, I wish to know my own rights and to be able to inform other passengers of theirs.
I am only interested in the narrow case defined above, in which everyone on a domestic flight is asked to show documents before deplaning. Assume that I am flying for travel rather than immigration, and that I have not committed any immigration or travel violations.
- Do I have the right to refuse compliance if asked for documentation?
- Can officials in this situation detain or arrest me solely for refusing to comply or failing to produce documentation?
- Are there possible long-term consequences if I refuse to comply, but otherwise have done nothing wrong?
I understand that immigration officials generally require probably cause to stop or detain someone, but have jurisdiction to detain someone who cannot demonstrate legal status at border crossings (source). I understand that this jurisdiction generally applies at airports for international arrivals. My question is whether it also can apply at an impromptu checkpoint for domestic travelers attempting to deplane.