Undocumented immigrants who decide to leave the United States because of increasing enforcement and decreasing job prospects now face one more obstacle: the threat of arrest and deportation by border officers inspecting outbound traffic, says USA Today. Federal authorities said that when illegal immigrants are detected trying to leave the country, they are not just ushered across the line. Instead, they are processed and formally removed.
The consequences of an arrest can be harsh: Those deported for unauthorized presence in the U.S. may be barred for 10 years from seeking legal immigrant papers. In addition, a later arrest for illegal entry may be prosecuted criminally. Although the scrutiny was designed to catch smugglers delivering currency and firearms to Mexican cartels, immigrants with otherwise clean records sometimes get caught in that net, although inspectors use discretion in deciding whether a person should be allowed to accept voluntary removal.