papersplease.org / February 24th, 2017
Earlier this week at least two US Customs and Border Protection officers boarded a domestic Delta Air Lines flight from San Francisco when it arrived at JFK Airport in New York, stood inside the doorway as passengers disembarked, and “requested” that each passenger hand over their identification “documents”.
CBP says that this was a “request“. One passenger told Rolling Stone, “the Delta flight attendant alerted passengers, ‘You’ll need to show your papers to agents waiting outside the door.’” In fact, the agents were inside the door, as clearly shown in photos posted to Twitter by passengers here and here, and in some cases appear to have been between the passengers they were questioning and the exit, closing them in so that they couldn’t have left.
It’s often unclear whether a statement of what law enforcement officers “need” is a request or a demand. Another passenger, a photo editor for Vice News, says passengers were given an order, not a potentially ambiguous statement of “need”: “We were told we couldn’t disembark without showing our ‘documents.’”
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