U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducts regular deportation flights to send deported immigrants to their home countries throughout the world. The number one stop for these specially-chartered immigration flights is currently Guatemala City.
In many cases, ICE will wait until it has enough immigrants to load a chartered plane that flies the men and women to their home countries. In other cases, ICE will buy a one-way ticket for an immigrant who is headed to a less-than-common destination. In 2016, almost 100,000 immigrants were deported via chartered ICE flights.
Deported immigrants can expect to fly home in normal passenger jets — albeit jets will probably not have the latest creature comforts and bells and whistles. There will be flight attendants who give a pre-flight safety talk, safety cards in the seat pockets in front of them and seat belt signs that light up and go off during turbulent air conditions. However, it’s likely that ICE guards will be the ones who pass out snacks and bark out orders to the passengers from time to time. And as one might expect, there won’t be any in-flight movies or complimentary cocktails. Also, the deported passengers will usually remain in handcuffs and shackles until close to the end of the flight.
The moments before a deportation flight home could be the last moments that an immigrant will spend in the United States — even if he or she has made a life here as an undocumented immigrant. Of course, avoiding deportation may be the preferred solution, so if you’re facing the threat of being arrested by ICE, you may want to confidentially discuss your immigration status with an attorney.