Travelers Alarmed as Federal Agents Check IDs After Domestic Flight Lands

Passengers arriving on a Delta flight from San Francisco to John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night were asked by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to produce identification as they exited the plane.

The request—in the context of sweeping changes to U.S. immigration policies under the administration of President Donald Trump—was met with confusion, alarm and speculation by some passengers.

There was, however, a solid reason for the ID check.

According to a statement from Customs and Border Protection, an immigration judge had ordered a person—who had been convicted of domestic assault, driving while impaired and a violation of an order of protection—to be removed from the plane and taken into custody.

Border protection officers are sometimes asked by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help in investigations. In this case, it turned out the person wasn’t on the plane.

None of the passengers on Delta flight 1583, however, knew what prompted the ID check.

Matt O’Rourke, a passenger, said that as the plane taxied to the gate, a member of the flight crew announced that everyone on board should have their papers ready to be checked by agents.

After a passenger asked the flight attendant to clarify what they wanted to see, the crew member explained that they were looking to inspect a government-issued ID, Mr. O’Rourke said.

As passengers exited the plane, two Customs and Border Protection agents checked IDs one by one.

Mr. O’Rourke, who lives in New York and works in advertising, said it didn’t make sense why the customs agents would be checking these documents on a domestic flight.

“It’s alarming to not know the reasons they would be checking,” he said.

( Source )