NEW YORK (CBSLA.com/AP) — Federal border officials say they were looking for a fugitive, not doing a random immigration check, when they met a plane at New York City’s Kennedy Airport and asked passengers for their IDs.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in a statement that two of its officers met the Delta jet Wednesday evening after its flight from San Francisco in an attempt to find a specific person who had been ordered deported by an immigration judge.
At least two passengers tweeted photographs of the officers examining flier’s IDs, which generated speculation on social media that it might be a part of a new dragnet for illegal immigrants.
Passengers were reportedly told they would be unable to leave the plane without furnishing identification, man, woman and child.
Customs and Border Protection says the person the officers were looking for was not on the plane.
Passenger Kelly Amadei snapped a photo of the federal agents who met the flight. Today, she spoke with CBS2’s Randy Paige.
Amadei said the agents looked at the identification with a fine tooth comb.
“They turned it over, they looked at the other side, at that point I was just confused” Amadei said.
Immigration attorney Alex Galvez said it was unreasonable for immigration officers to make all passengers provide identification.
“First of all, you’re not bound to show your identification unless there’s probable cause,” Galvez said, “And if they were looking for a male individual, why were they asking for the females for their identification, the children? Again, it’s all smoke and mirrors.”
Paige asked if he’d ever heard of d anything like this involving passengers on a domestic flight. “Never,” he said.
“It was alarming, confusing, it was intimidating…an unsettling experience,” said Amadei.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)