TSA Chief David Pekoske told Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) this week that there have been hundreds of instances where undocumented immigrants have successfully boarded flights in the US using civil warrants as identification.
The Montana senator wrote to Pekoske earlier this year, according to Fox News, asking him to explain the policy under which undocumented immigrants are allowed to use civil warrants for immigration enforcement as proof of identification when boarding a flight in the United States in lieu of a driver’s license or passport. Pekoske appeared in front of a Senate panel this week where Hawley further grilled him on the matter.
When asked by Hawley, “How many individuals have presented TSA with arrest warrants or deportation notices and been allowed to travel this calendar year?” Pekoske replied, “Under 1,000, sir.”
The exact number of instances remains unclear. Under current TSA policy, for noncitizens and non-U.S. nationals who do not otherwise have acceptable forms of ID for presentation at security checkpoints, TSA may also accept certain DHS-issued forms, including ICE Form I-200,” said a TSA spokesperson earlier this year.
According to Pekoske, those who utilize a warrant as ID at a TSA checkpoint also undergo additional security checks after the “alien identification number” from the warrant is verified. The additional screening steps include an interview by officers present at the checkpoint.
Hawley pressed the TSA chief on the logic behind the policy, asking him why TSA would allow people who have committed a crime to fly. Pekoske responded by pointing out the role of the TSA. “We aren’t looking at whether a person is legal or illegal in the country,” he said. “Our role is to make sure that people who may pose a risk to transportation that is significant enough to require enhanced screening or to not allow them to fly.”
“So your position is someone who is known to have violated the laws of the United States does not thereby need enhanced screening?” Hawley asked. Pekoske replied, “Sir, there are people who violate the laws of the United States every day who fly,” Pekoske responded. “We look for things related to transportation security.”
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