Immigration checkpoints are stops on roadways and waterways, controlled by the border patrol in order to control traffic and flow of immigrants and visitors to and from the United States. There are immigration checkpoints along the Canadian-US border as well as along the US-Mexico border. However, the number of immigration checkpoints along the US-Mexico border has been growing. In fact, visitors who are returning to the United States after visiting Mexico may find themselves driving through more than one or two immigration checkpoints.
Not all immigration checkpoints are at the border, either. The Border Patrol is legally allowed to check individuals within 100 miles of borders. As a result, the Border Patrol has established some immigration checkpoints well North of the United States and Mexico border. In fact, some American residents driving through Arizona, California, and parts of Texas may find themselves approaching an immigration check point – even if they have never left the US! In most cases, these checkpoints will only ask about status and check identification in cases where illegal immigration or drug possession is suspected. However, it is a good idea to have documentation on hand to prove your status in any event.
If you are traveling to Mexico and back, you will likely encounter more than one immigration check point. When returning to the United States, you will likely be stopped at the border. You’ll be asked your immigration status, country of citizenship, reason for entering the United States, and whether you have any substances which you need to declare. Beyond that, your documentation will be checked to ensure that you are qualified to reenter or enter the United States. In addition, you may be asked to step aside and your trunk and car may be searched, especially if it is believed by the Border Patrol that you are hiding contraband or something else. In some cases, immigration checkpoints make use of special drug sniffing dogs to test for illegal drugs, explosives, and other controlled substances.
In addition, Border Patrol sometime moves immigration checkpoints around in order to better surprise drivers and in order to better control security. In some areas where immigration checkpoints are common, residents have complained about the presence of these immigration checkpoints, since local residents as well as people entering the United States are checked at these stops, causing some delays for local residents and forcing residents to carry documents at all times to prove their status.