spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

“Show me your papers.” NOPE*

on February 27, 2017

*on a domestic flight, that is.  Of course, you must be prepared to show your passport/appropriate visas/International Letter of Consent when completing international travel.  That’s the law, folks, because you landing in whatever country essentially means that you are asking permission to enter it.

Here are various accounts of a recent incident, including Customs & Border Patrol’s statement, which occurred on a Delta flight from San Francisco to New York.  Some thoughts:

  • it’s not international travel, and therefore, when you land, you are not “requesting permission to enter the US”….because, you were in the US when the flight began, and in the US when the flight ended.  Your ID requirements for before, during, and after the flight were set by the airline you flew.
  • Customs and Border Protection agents can ask you to cooperate with certain things in a official capacity.  In this case, they were looking for an individual adult identified by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents who was properly documented, but served an order of deportation, and they had information the individual would be on this flight.
  • CPB cannot require you to cooperate by showing your ID on a domestic flight.  In this case, everyone did and that was the end of it, because they did not find the individual in question.
  • in my opinion, it does make some sense to ask to check everyone instead of just people that matched the suspect’s physical description.  This avoids racial profiling.  If I had been asked nicely to show my ID, I would have asked if it were required, and then taken it from there.  The whole thing makes me very uncomfortable, though.  It’s weird that there are multiple reports of the agents just checking IDs, without reference to checking names off the passenger manifest.  Another point: domestic IDs like driver’s licenses rarely, if ever, provide information on immigration status.  So they weren’t checking documentation in the immigration sense.

So what advice would I give to people traveling domestically?  Read the ID requirements of the airline carrier you are using, and follow those to the letter.  I’d add the following to be totally safe: with babies, carry a copy of the birth certificate for proof of age.  With toddlers, it’s easy to make a laminated ID card with a recent photo (see example below, lol), and I’d carry the birth cert copy, too.  With school-age and up, school ID plus the birth cert copy.  In my experience, the TSA agents that check your boarding pass and ID before the security obstacle course do the simplest of all checks….they call out the kid’s name.  If your kid responds to the name on the boarding pass by looking at them, or verbally responding, they’re usually good to go.  These front-of-the-line agents will usually let sleeping babies lie, unlike their x-ray machine counterparts, who will make you take said sleeping little one out of the stroller or carrier before letting you pass, naps be damned.

disney-id

Ha, ha.  Kids’ IDs also generally include date of birth, descriptive info like hair and eye color, height/weight, and names/#s for legal guardians.  It may be worthwhile to list any serious allergies here, too. 

 

Pro tip: make your own laminated ID at home with self-sealing luggage tags.  I like the ones with the loops versus the clips, because you can securely attach them to the inside pocket of your bag, and no chance of getting a wee finger caught in the clip.  And the ones with neither loops or clips are too big to fit in a wallet, and easy to lose/drop.  Finally, many daycares provide a Child ID of some sort, and you can certainly carry that instead if it has relevant info.  IDs are good way to help a kid recognize their written name, so you get a side benefit.  Another one: it is fun for your child’s comfort object to also have an ID.  Long ago, DD made a small, crayon-colored passport for her doll Jessica, and it was helpful for “playing airport security” at home.  We even stamped stuff into it.  Good times.

OK, now…proceed as normal.  We all know the old line…kids are like horses-they can smell fear.  If you are anxious, they will pick up on it.  If you are traveling solo, make sure someone knows your travel details.  But I won’t be packing my passport or naturalization certificate for domestic travel nor will I be afraid to speak to my children in Spanish on the plane/at the airport.  Happy and safe travels!

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