With all our experience counseling on immigration law questions, the attorneys at Fong & Aquino in Los Angeles do not regularly get the chance to see the day-in, day-out operations at airports and other ports of entry.
Whether it is Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy or not, I do not know, but last week, I noticed DHS personnel roaming through the terminals at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. They actually went to various gates and randomly requested ID or passports from OUTBOUND passengers seated in the boarding areas.
That is, they checked the documents of both Americans and foreigners who were LEAVING the USA. Not entering.
I followed them around a little bit. The officers were friendly, civil. They approached passengers in the terminal, asked them their final destinations, and asked if they could see their passports. Interestingly, although I was standing right next to a bank of chairs in the boarding area, they did not ask me for my passport, nor did they ask anyone who was standing or walking through the terminal. They only approached persons seated in the departure gate area. I did not see them detain anyone.
I have often been asked whether DHS personnel made random checks of persons in airports. I used to say that "they could, but I've never seen it." Well, I have now. --jcf