Earlier this month, TSA Administrator David Pekoske confirmed the policy in response to an inquiry submitted on December 15, 2021, by Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX-05) and other Republican members of Congress.
The signers of the letter included Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), Pat Fallon (R-TX-04), Jake Ellzey (R-TX-06), Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), Brian Babin (R-TX-36), David McKinley (R-WV-01), Mike Bost (R-IL-12), Mary Miller (R-IL-15), Doug Lamborn (R-CO-05), Byron Donalds (R-FL-19), Steven Palazzo (R-MS-04), Bill Johnson (R-OH-06), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05).
“We have serious concerns TSA is actively assisting illegal immigrants without proper identification travel throughout the country,” Gooden and his colleagues wrote.
“Therefore, we are requesting TSA provide assistance in identifying and preventing the unprecedented flow of illegal immigrants into and throughout the United States and the role TSA has played in facilitating this influx of migrants.”
They criticized Biden for releasing at least 160,000 illegal aliens and observed that there were over 1.6 million apprehensions by border guards in Fiscal Year 2021. Most of those arrests, about 1.15 million, were in Texas.
According to Pekoske’s response, which he sent on January 7, if an alien is unable to provide the required documents to enter the secure area of an airport, the TSA will instead accept two of the following: warrant for the arrest of the alien, warrant for deportation or removal, order of release on recognizance, order of supervision, notice to appear, arrival and departure form, or alien booking record.
From January 1 through October 31 of last year, 45,577 aliens presented documentation to the TSA at an average of about 159 daily. The documents were “validated” in 44,957 of these cases, per the TSA’s report.
Pekoske indicated that immigration status is not considered salient in the TSA’s security procedures.
“TSA is committed to ensuring that all travelers, regardless of immigration status, are pre-screened before they arrive to the airport, have their pre-screening status and identification verified at security checkpoints, and receive appropriate screening based on risk before entering the sterile area of the airport,” Pekoske wrote.
The administrator noted that illegal aliens who provide the alternative forms of identification are then required to undergo more extensive screening.
Responding to Gooden’s questions about whether local law enforcement and airlines are kept in the loop about how many illegal aliens are aboard their flights, Pekoske stated that they are generally not involved.
“TSA’s statutory mission is transportation security. If a (sic) law enforcement assistance is required (for example, because of an assaultive passenger or because indicators of criminal conduct are observed), TSA obtains the assistance of local law enforcement,” Pekoske explained.
“Immigration status is not a factor in the TSA screening process.”
Copies of Gooden’s letter to Pekoske and the TSA administrator’s response can be found below.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."