Today we went to Playa del Carmen for a doctor’s appointment. As we approached the police checkpoint on the south side of town, we realized that it was also manned by immigration officials — which is rare. There were also two caged immigration detention vans parked there, so it was pretty clear they were planning on making some arrests.
As we slowed to go over the speed bump, an immigration official looked at us and immediately signaled us to enter the secondary inspection area. I guess we looked like undocumented immigrants to him.
The immigration officer walked over to the passenger side of the car and asked us if we spoke Spanish. When we answered that we both did, he then began questioning us about our legal presence in the country. I told him in Spanish that we were legal residents and handed him our Mexican resident cards. After taking a photo of both cards, he released us. He was very polite and friendly.
I originally wrote an article about surprise immigration checkpoints back in June. In case you missed it, you can read it here: Mexico’s Policy of Random Immigration Inspections.
We have driven by a few surprise immigration checkpoints over the last year, but until today they were always too busy with other foreigners to stop us.
Let’s Wrap This Up
This is a good reminder to always carry some type of legal proof of your lawful presence in Mexico. That might be in the form of actual documents, copies of documents or even photos of the documents kept on your phone.
In this case, we were only detained for a couple of minutes because we could easily prove that we were here legally. A friend of ours was stopped at a similar surprise checkpoint a couple of years back but he didn’t have any proof on him. He was detained in an immigration van until his girlfriend was able to send a picture of his resident card.
Just so you know, these checkpoints appear and disappear quickly. We were stopped around 09:30 A.M. and when we went back by the same location at noon, the immigration officials were gone.