This question is a follow-up from a previous question Self-deportation of American Citizens from US, and the purpose of my question is not to discuss the particulars of the Galicia event, but to ask the broader question about the actual process of transporting a person from the US to Mexico (or for that matter any other country).

It occurs to me that there are two major categories of deportation: (1) Where the CBP/ICE are in custody of a person and with force put that person on a plane,train, bus. etc that will only discharge that passenger in a targeted country and (2) where the person agrees to self-deport, in which case, they are not in custody and promise to arrange their own transportation out of the country (where they go and how they get there is their choice).

Focused on the first category, where CBP/ICE has custody of the person, does (for example Ice Airways) just fly into Mexico or Guatemala City and dump people off on the tarmac without notice? Or does the receiving country have to agree to accept 'the human cargo'? Can the receiving country refuse admission (particularly where the receiving country is unconvinced that the person being deported is actually a citizen of the receiving country)?

So the question I am asking is: What are the mechanics of deportation both in the US as well as in the "receiving" country?

(I am NOT asking about the process before a final deportation order is issued) or even person elects to "self-deport", rather I'm asking about what happens after)

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    I can't answer in detail, but I have heard of cases in which a receiving country cannot be found, so that addresses the next to last paragraph in broad terms. Of course this is so: how do you think the US would react if some other country showed up unannounced with a planeful of people who claimed to be US nationals? Countries generally recognize an obligation to take their nationals, but there may be disputes about nationality as you note.
    – phoog
    Jul 31 '19 at 20:38
  • @phoog - re: How do you think the US would react... One would suppose that if the people claiming to be US nationals had documents to support their claim, the US would have to admit them (albeit perhaps provisionally). OTOH, if they do not have some claim to proper US presence, one would anticipate that Immigration control would not admit them to the interior. So... that supposes that a person being deported from the US MUST have appropriate papers to be acceptable to the receiving country. That's what seems to make sense, but is that what actually happens? (why I'm asking the Q)
    – BobE
    Jul 31 '19 at 20:54
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    In practice, I am quite certain they work it out through diplomatic channels for each individual before the flight is even scheduled. I am just not privy to the details, which is why I am not answering. It's also interesting to wonder how the process varies according to a country's relationship with the US.
    – phoog
    Jul 31 '19 at 21:03
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    I'm not familiar with the US system, but the UK certainly does get travel documents from embassies for the nationals they deport, although it seems a bit under the table theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/21/…
    – pjc50
    Jul 31 '19 at 21:09
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    A country can refuse to accept deportation of its own nationals back to the country, and that's the reason for INA 243(d) (8 USC 1253(d)), which allows the US government to discontinue issuance of visas to nationals of such a country in retaliation.
    – user102008
    Aug 1 '19 at 18:27

After the decision has been made to deport someone, ICE issues what is known as the "Bag and Baggage" letter. This letter outlines your itinerary for travel back to the nation of origin and, like a summons to appear, it is a legally binding document that requires your compliance. The travel arrangements are made and paid by the U.S. Gov't, you're simply told where to show up with whatever you're taking with you. If you need more time (generally for stuff like medical conditions, or whatever), you fill out Form I-246.

If you don't show up, a warrant is issued for your arrest by an ICE fugitive unit - this warrant shows up to all law enforcement officers so you can find yourself turned over to ICE if you get pulled over for a speeding ticket. Aside from the unpleasantness that a violent interaction with ICE agents entails, you will presumably be taken into police custody and held until the deportation can be enforced - literally putting you on the plane, bus, or train in cuffs and probably with escort to your entry port at your destination.

It is likely, depending on circumstances, that individuals subject to expedited removal orders go directly to ICE arrest, do not pass go, do not get a Bag and Baggage order from an Immigration Court, it's not clear what the procedures are there.

In all cases, however, the U.S. only carries out the removal after the receiving country has issued appropriate travel documentation and accepted receipt of the individual. If they do not accept, then things get muddy but you are likely to be held indefinitely in ICE custody until some other legal recourse can be arrived at (like a grant of asylum, for example).

  • Very helpful, however leaves some questions. 1) if the person to be deported claims to be a national of a country that has no record or knowledge of that person, why would the country accept that person. 2) if the person claims to be a national of (say) Switzerland but entered the US through Mexico and only speaks Spanish would the US insist that Switzerland accept this person (particularly if Switzerland does not acknowledge the person as their national).
    – BobE
    Jun 17 at 0:37
  • I would assume they would do some investigation, demand proof from the person, etc. And if they're caught out lying or whatnot, well now they're guilty of a crime (lying to law enforcement) and will be prosecuted. Jun 17 at 12:43
  • The assumption I'm making is that the person has no papers, may be using an alias, no other nation will acknowledge this person.... and the US is incapable of proving he is lying (thereby can't be convicted) .... kind of sounds like an impasse.
    – BobE
    Jun 18 at 2:43

This answer will only attempt to answer this part of the question:

Or does the receiving country have to agree to accept 'the human cargo'? Can the receiving country refuse admission (particularly where the receiving country is unconvinced that the person being deported is actually a citizen of the receiving country)?

As the rest is covered by the other answer.

Article 13 of the Universal declaration of human rights says:

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

And while according to this site the declaration isn’t technically legally binding, they also say:

Some argue that because countries have consistently invoked the Declaration for more than sixty years, it has become binding as a part of customary international law.

So it is highly unlikely that Mexico would ignore it.

In addition, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is legally binding to its signees says in article 12, part 4:

No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.

However, I couldn’t find more information on what is considered “his own country.” Also, according to the UN Mexico has signed the treaty since 1981, so it is legally binding for them.

Regarding the possibility of countries disputing the place of origin of a person, such a thing would either be negotiated between the US and Mexico, or in rare cases possibly escalated to the ICJ. See here for more information types of cases the ICJ hears.

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