U.S. Customs and Border Protection is in the spotlight again after their agents forced domestic flight passengers to show identification before being allowed to disembark from the aircraft. Delta Flight 1583 from San Francisco arrived in New York on Wednesday evening and was promptly greeted by federal agents. The search was initiated by two Customs and Border Protection agents per the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They were looking for an illegal immigrant who had recently been issued a deportation order due to several criminal convictions.

His convictions are for domestic assault, driving while impaired, and violating a protection order.

The incident

Passengers from the flight took to social media almost immediately posting photos and tweets about this bizarre occurrence. Jordan Wells, a lawyer with the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that it is not strange for law enforcement officers to board an aircraft to arrest a wanted suspect or a fugitive. However, forcing all passengers to show their IDs before allowing them to leave is unheard of. The Illegal Immigrant in question was not found among the passengers. The identity of the person in question has not been released as public information. Passengers are not sure what would have happened if they had not compiled with the agents' demands.

Legal matters

Freedom of movement has been protected by the United States Constitution since 1823. It was defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1869 as "right of free ingress into other states, and egress from them." It can be found in the Privileges and Immunities Clause in the U.S. Constitution. Forcing domestic passengers to show their IDs before allowing them to leave is a direct violation of freedom of movement.

This strange behavior from the CBP comes only a few short weeks after US-born NASA scientist Sidd Bikkannavar was detained by the same agency and forced to hand over the PIN code for his phone upon returning to the U.S. from Chile. It remains to be seen just how far the government will go under the current administration.