Yes, there is. You need a passport to go to Canada or Mexico these days. No passport? You don't get out. They wanna keep you in the US, all they gotta do is cancel your passport. They don't have to give you a reason upfront.
Ah, but you didn't mention cancellation of passports. That's a much larger problem but you could still easily enter Mexico or Canada. There's a few (most?) Mexican border stations that simply don't check documents for people walking across the border to their side.
As for Canada, there's a lot of back roads protected by nothing but an orange cone most of the night.
That is one reason why we've been up in arms about who the Canadians let into their country as it is so easy to get from there to here without being detected.
The so-called wall that supposed to built to keep illegal immigrants out of our country and away from our jobs does just as good a job at keeping US in! You're not going to get out of this country if they don't want you to.
Unless you're on a no-fly list you're going to able to fly out of the country. There's no outbound passport control in the US.
And if you're on the no-fly list you're not going anywhere unless you're driving. (Then you could drive to Canada or Mexico)
Perhaps I'm out of the loop but I don't see anything here that's outrageous.
It looks like CBP received a dump of your PNR from the airline, period. Any data that's stored in that PNR will be transmitted when it's dumped. Whoopty-fookin-do. It's the AIRLINE that has all this information to begin with.
As for the CBP internal records it makes sense they would track when/where your passport shows up. I know my passport details have either been manually entered or scanned in and out of most countries I've been in. (Or a backend transmittal occurred from the airline to passport control in that country to indicate I was departing)
Whilst the "big brother" connotation of this is troubling it is not as if CBP went out and GATHERED all this information on its own from various sources. They ask the airline for a dump of the PNR, the airline gives it to them. Since you booked everything into one PNR they got it all.
If anything here the airline is not taking appropriate steps to safeguard your data. I'd bitch at them before I'd get worked up with DHS. (Not saying I wouldn't get worked up with DHS too but I'd start at the source of the data)
This is not as simple as it sounds.
IIRC the Blackberry service depends on a particular APN being available to it. When you pop a prepaid SIM in from your destination country it typically won't come with that APN provisioned. This means phones calls, hassles, problems, and likely inability to work.
There's two "easy" solutions to this:
1 - Get unlimited "worldwide" Blackberry service from ATT/Verizon for $65/mo and have a separate phone with a local prepaid SIM in it for voice calls that is shared amongst the crew.
2 - Use an ActiveSync capable device as it merely depends on making an https connection.
My BlackBerry using friend and I were in Ireland and Northern Ireland last week. My iPhone worked quite happily with Vodefone IE and Orange UK SIMs. He couldn't get his Vodafone data working and had to call Orange and pay £5 extra to get his BlackBerry working.
If your people are travelling a lot and are not tech savvy I would go with option 1. There's only one device to swap SIMs on and the most savvy person can be responsible for it.