Can undocumented immigrants travel by plane in the USA?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column, I answer a question from a reader who wants to know if an undocumented person can travel by air within the United States.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

I am undocumented in the United States. I wish to travel to New York to visit my family. I have a passport from Mexico that expires in 2018. Can I travel by plane within the United States using my passport? - Carlos T.

Carlos, an undocumented person holding a valid foreign passport may board an airplane within the United States if the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows it.

The TSA is responsible for airport security in the U.S. and does not have a primary mandate to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

According to the TSA, passengers 18 years of age or older must generally show valid photo identification at the airport checkpoint to gain access to their flight.

The TSA accepts multiple identity documents  including the following:

1. U.S. Passport.

2. U.S. passport card.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "Trusted Traveler" program cards, including Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST.

4. U.S. military identification card (active duty or retired military and dependents, and U.S. Department of Defense civilians).

5. Permanent Resident Card

6. Border crossing card

7. DHS-designated enhanced driver's license (DHS-designated enhanced driver's license)

8. Driver's licenses or other state photo identification cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent).

9. Photo identification of a Native American tribe.

10. Identification issued by an airline or airport (provided it is issued in accordance with a TSA-approved security plan).

11. Passport issued by a foreign government

12. Canadian Provincial Driver's License or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Card.

13. Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)

Although the TSA reports that they do not check whether a valid passport has a visa, traveling within the country while undocumented has its risks. Keep in mind that undocumented persons are subject to being detained by immigration authorities at any time and in any place. This includes airports.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog .

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States) . He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).