According to a disturbing revelation from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), illegal immigrants are being allowed to board commercial flights.
Many illegal immigrants currently caught at the U.S. southern border are allowed to enter the U.S. but are given a “notice to appear” (NTA) ordering them to appear at an immigration court on a certain date. While the TSA claims that allowing NTAs to be used as a form of identification is done securely, its recent letter to Congress is less than assuring.
The letter from TSA administrator John Pistole states that NTAs, as government-issued documents, may be used in alternative processes to board planes. The TSA insists that the issuance of the NTA requires checking various biographic and biometric databases to ensure that the illegal immigrant is not a dangerous individual. But many of these illegal immigrants will have very little known about them and they will likely not be in any database. So while database checks may stop certain known criminals, it won’t stop individuals whom we don’t know are criminals or security risks.
The TSA letter says that if the NTA is used, the passenger is to provide “other identifying information such as a photo, address, phone number, social security number, or date of birth.” This other form of identification need not be an official document and is subject to fraud. Indeed, that false or at least unofficial document is likely the basis for the name that was put on the NTA, so this step doesn’t necessarily do much to stop a dangerous individual from getting on a plane.
If another ID is not provided, TSA can ask other government agencies to provide corroborating evidence. According to the TSA letter, this corroboration can be as little as having another agency certify that the NTA “was issued to an individual with the name provided.” This is a serious problem, because that NTA could have been stolen from the illegal immigrant to whom it was issued—or given away or lost.
About the only thing right in this process is that individuals without proper ID, whether they are citizens or illegal immigrants, are subject to a more robust pat-down and explosives detection screening.
Another ridiculous answer in the TSA letter is that NTAs can be used even after the court date, and there is no indication that the individual will be detained. Illegal immigrants who stay in the U.S. after their court dates (and have likely not appeared for their court dates) can board aircraft without fear that they will be taken into custody. While this once again poses security concerns, it is just one more policy of the Obama administration that does not enforce U.S. immigration law.
Allowing NTAs to be used as a form of identification defies common sense, and the TSA’s procedures do little to alleviate the fact that the U.S. does not know who is boarding its planes. While it is good to see that the TSA more rigorously searches these individuals, putting potentially dangerous individuals on airplanes is an unacceptable security risk. It is bad enough that immigration laws go unenforced, but putting U.S. citizens and flights at risk is irresponsible.