Backpackers Tokyo

When the office of Lance Gooden — who currently serves the fifth district of Texas as a member of the House of Representatives of the United States — obtained documents from a whistleblower which proved that the Transportation Security Administration was allowing unknown migrants to board commercial airlines to destinations around the United States, the Republican congressman wrote and sent a letter to the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 demanding answers as to why illegal migrants were being permitted to fly as passengers without proper identification.

Is a Warrant for Arrest an Acceptable ID at Airports?

Gooden subsequently traveled to the southern border of the United States in November of 2021 and claimed to have observed first hand the boarding of illegal migrants on airplanes which are operated by commercial airlines. He then wrote and sent an initial letter to the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, November 15, 2021, from which he had received no response.

Letters to both American Airlines and United Airlines were also sent on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 and Wednesday, November 17, 2021 respectively by Gooden and two other members of Congress, who accused the airlines of “actively assisting illegal immigrants traveling throughout the United States and smuggling illegal immigrants in violation of federal law.”

Additionally, letters to both Wyndham Hotels Resorts and Marriott International, Incorporated were sent on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 by both Lance Gooden and Mary Miller — who represents the fifteenth district of Illinois as a member of the House of Representatives — accusing both lodging companies of “actively assisting and harboring illegal immigrants coming to the United States in violation of federal law.”

Moreover, the assistance of both airlines and both lodging companies was formally requested in “identifying and preventing the unprecedented flow of illegal immigrants into and throughout the United States” and the role which both airlines have played in facilitating this influx of illegal migrants.

“The Transportation Security Administration is putting millions of Americans flying for Christmas at risk by allowing unknown, and potentially dangerous, immigrants to board commercial aircraft”, according to this official statement from Lance Gooden. “The American people deserve transparency and to know U.S. national security and their personal safety are not being put at risk.”

Gooden finally received a response to the second letter from David P. Pekoske — who is the current administrator of the Transportation Security Administration — in the form of a letter which comprised of six pages on Friday, January 7, 2022; and included in that response is that forms which have been issued by the Department of Homeland Security of the United States may be accepted at the security checkpoint of airports within the United States as identification for access to the secure area of the airport — including the following forms:

  • ICE Form I-200 — Warrant for Arrest of Alien
  • ICE Form I-205 — Warrant of Removal/Deportation
  • ICE Form I-220A — Order of Release on Recognizance
  • ICE Form I-220B — Order of Supervision
  • DHS Form I-862 — Notice to Appear
  • CBP Form I-94 — Arrival and Departure Form (including a print-out of an electronic record)
  • DHS Form I-385 — Alien Booking Record

No Denial of Transporting Migrants During the Night?

Joseph Biden — who is the current president of the United States — was accused by several lawmakers in Florida of creating a humanitarian and national security crisis at the border which the country shares with Mexico by allowing flights that secretly transported illegal immigrants to Florida and other states and were funded by taxpayer dollars.

At a press conference in the press briefing room at The White House on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, a reporter asked “Why is the administration flying thousands of migrants from the border to Florida and New York in the middle of the night?” Jen Psaki — who is the current press secretary for The White House — replied, “Well, I’m not sure that’s in the middle of the night, but let me tell you what’s happening here.”

When the reporter clarified with “2:13 a.m., 4:29 a.m. — very early in the morning then. Pre-dawn”, Psaki responded with the following statement:

Well, here — here we are talking about early flights — earlier than you might like to take a flight.

It is our legal responsibility to safely care for unaccompanied children until they swiftly — can be swiftly unified with a parent or a vetted sponsor. And that’s something we take seriously; we have a moral ri- — obligation to come to do that and deliver on that.

As a part of the unification process, our Office of Refugee Resettlement facilitates travel for children in its custody to their families or sponsors across the country. So, in recent weeks, unaccompanied children passed through the Westchester airport, which I think is what you’re referring to, en route to their final destination to be unified with their parents or a vetted sponsor.

It’s no surprise that kids can be seen traveling through states, not just New York. It’s something that we’re also working to unite children with their family members or vetted sponsors in other parts of the country as well.

The official video of the press briefing is shown below — and the aforementioned exchange starts at 22:25 in the video.

Final Boarding Call

R. Carter Langston — who is the press secretary of strategic communications and public affairs for the Transportation Security Administration — quickly responded to my request for clarification and authentication with the following statement: “We are working on something now, and I will be in touch soon.”

The Gate was unable to obtain responses from both airlines and both lodging companies at the time this article was written.

I have a lot of thoughts and questions about this entire situation — but I want to wait until I hear official word from the Transportation Security Administration; and I am interested in your thoughts and questions as well, which you can post in the Comments section below.

For your convenience, both the complete inquiry letter and complete response letter are included verbatim after the conclusion of this article — which is right now.

Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

December 15, 2021

Administrator Pekoske Transportation Security Administration TSA Headquarters East Tower, Floor 11, TSA-5 601 South Twelfth Street Arlington, VA 20598

Dear Administrator Pekoske,

We request clarification on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) policies and procedures to protect the nation’s transportation systems and mitigate national security risks. We have serious concerns TSA is actively assisting illegal immigrants without proper identification travel throughout the country. 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.

Over 1.6 million immigrants have been apprehended at the southern border this year alone. Even more alarming, over 160,000 aliens have been released into the United States with little to no oversight. This presents a significant safety risk to the American people. Additionally, criminal organizations reportedly made up to $14 million a day in February by trafficking women, children, and families across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Given the potential misuse of taxpayer funds, violation of federal law, and the continued flow of illegal immigration throughout the country, we request TSA provide the following information to help develop legislative solutions:

  1. What policies and procedures are in place to identify and screen Non-US/Canadian citizens who do not have documents issued by the U.S. government or passports?
  2. Please specify policies and procedures related to TSA’s Secure Flight. a. What personal data is collected, used, distributed, stored, and disposed? b. What information is shared with the airline?
  3. Please confirm the number of Non-US/Canadian citizens that have been screened by TSA from January 1st, 2021 through October 31st, 2021.a. Please specify the number of Non-US/Canadian citizens TSA successfully screened.

b. Please specify the number of Non-US/Canadian citizens TSA denied.

  1. If proper identification is not available, what documents are sufficient to allow a Non-US/Canadian citizen to clear TSA’s checkpoint before proceeding into the sterile area of an airport?a. Please list each document.
  2. If the alternate document was provided by a federal agency, has that agency confirmed toTSA the document confirms the identity of the alien and is sufficient documentation to allowthem to fly?
  3. Please share any policies and procedures related to airport Federal Security Director (FSD)responsibility in screening passengers with no identification.
  4. Is a letter from a non-government organization sufficient for TSA to confirm the identity of atraveler?
  5. What health screenings are aliens required to undergo prior to boarding a plane to ensurethey are not putting other passengers at risk? Who verifies that the screenings have takenplace and where is that information logged?
  6. Are airlines made aware of aliens traveling on their flights?
  7. What policies or procedures are in place to coordinate with federal, state and local lawenforcement regarding the transportation of illegal immigrants throughout the country?

We sincerely hope you are taking every step necessary to protect the nation’s transportation system and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Lance Gooden Member of Congress Doug Lamborn Member of Congress Rep. Brian Babin, D.D.S. Member of Congress David B. McKinley, P.E. Member of Congress Byron Donalds Member of Congress Jake Ellzey Member of Congress Rep. Mary E. Miller Member of Congress Pat Fallon Member of Congress Steven M. Palazzo Member of Congress

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration 6595 Springfield Center Drive Springfield, Virginia 20598

January 7, 2022

The Honorable Lance Gooden U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Gooden:

Thank you for your correspondence dated December 15, 2021, asking for clarification on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) policies and procedures for protecting the Nation’s transportation systems and mitigating national security risks.

I appreciate your concern about this critical matter. 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.

I have enclosed responses to the questions raised in your letter. I hope you will find them helpful.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me and for supporting TSA’s important security mission. We have sent an identical response to the co-signers of your letter. If I may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me personally or our Legislative Affairs office at (571) 227-2717.

Sincerely,

David P. Pekoske Administrator

Enclosure

TSA Response to December 15, 2021, Letter from Representative Lance Gooden, et al.

1. What policies and procedures are in place to identify and screen Non-US/Canadian citizens who do not have documents issued by the U.S. government or passports?

TSA has a policy to accept additional forms of identification (ID) when a traveler does not have ID that is included on TSA’s acceptable forms of ID list. If an individual does not have acceptable ID, TSA requires two additional forms of ID that have the individual’s name, with preference given to Government-issued ID. One of the two forms must have the individual’s name and identifying information such as a photo, address, phone number, social security number, or date of birth. These individuals receive additional screening as described in the TSA’s Checkpoint and Specialized Screening Standard Operating Procedure.

Additionally, in coordination with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) counterparts, TSA established a process where it will accept certain DHS-issued forms for non-citizens and non-U.S. nationals who do not otherwise have acceptable forms of ID for presentation at security checkpoints. If a non-U.S./Canadian citizen presents one of these forms, the TSA Travel Document Checker (TDC) will look at the DHS-issued document (for example, I-94, I-862) for an alien identification number (A-file) and validate the document in one of two ways:

  • The first is by using the CBP One™ mobile application to directly query CBP’s databases for a match (at locations participating in the pilot with CBP).
  • The second is by calling the TSA National Transportation Vetting Center (NTVC) and providing the A-file for NTVC to directly query CBP’s databases for a match. These individuals also undergo additional screening procedures as described in the TSA’s Checkpoint and Specialized Screening Standard Operating Procedure.

In all cases where a traveler’s identity cannot be verified, the airport’s Federal Security Director (FSD) has discretion to determine what level of additional screening is needed. The FSD may decide that there is no level of screening which is acceptable, and then deny the prospective passenger access to the sterile area.

2. Please specify policies and procedures related to TSA’s Secure Flight

2a. What personal data is collected, used, distributed, stored, and disposed?

The Secure Flight system collects Secure Flight Passenger Data 1 from airlines and screens individuals before they access airport sterile areas or board aircraft. This screening is designed to identify known or suspected terrorists or other individuals who may be a threat to transportation or national security, to prevent some identified individuals from gaining access to airports and airplanes where they may jeopardize the lives of passengers, and to ensure that other identified individuals receive additional physical screening before accessing airport sterile areas or boarding an aircraft.

Secure Flight compares passenger and non-traveler information to the No Fly and Selectee List components of the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) to identify individuals who are known or suspected terrorists. When warranted by security considerations, it also compares this information against other watch lists maintained by TSA or other federal agencies. Secure Flight follows a records retention schedule, approved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), to purge personally identifiable information (PII) as follows:

  • PII of persons who are not a potential or confirmed match to one of the watch lists is purged within 7 days of travel.
  • PII of potential matches to higher-risk lists is purged after 7 years.
  • PII of confirmed matches to higher-risk lists is purged after 99 years.

2b. What information is shared with the airline?

After the Secure Flight system collects Secure Flight Passenger Data from airlines and analyzes it as described above, the Secure Flight system provides a boarding pass instruction to the airline based on the vetting results. Using this instruction, the carrier will take one of the following actions: print boarding/access passes to those who are authorized to receive them, identify individuals for additional screening, or deny individuals boarding or sterile area access.

3. Please confirm the number of Non-US/Canadian citizens that have been screened by TSA from January 1st, 2021 through October 31st, 2021.

Country of citizenship data is not collected during the routine Secure Flight prescreening process or the non-citizen and non-U.S. national document validation process via the TSA NTVC. When looking at the entire non-citizen/non U.S. national population presenting DHS-issued documents for validation through the NTVC since January 1, 2021, the average per day number has been approximately 159 passengers.

  • From January 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021, TSA’s NTVC processed 45,577 non-citizens and non-U.S. nationals requesting validation of their DHS-issued documents.
  • Of the of the 45,577 non-citizens and non-U.S. nationals requesting document validation, the NTVC was able to validate the documentation of 44,957 passengers. Airports conducted screening of these passengers as appropriate and designated based on risk.

TSA collaborated with CBP to use the CBP One™ mobile application to verify non-U.S. national/non-citizen and non-U.S. national passenger documentation.

  • From January 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021, TSA has used the CBP One™ mobile application approximately 60,000 times. If documents cannot be validated through the CBP One™ mobile application, an attempt will be made to validate through the NVTC.

3a. Please specify the number of Non-US/Canadian citizens TSA successfully screened.

See above.

3b. Please specify the number of Non-US/Canadian citizens TSA denied.

See above.

4. If proper identification is not available, what documents are sufficient to allow a Non- US/Canadian citizen to clear TSA’s checkpoint before proceeding into the sterile area of an airport?

As mentioned, in coordination with its DHS counterparts, TSA established a process where it will accept certain DHS-issued forms for non-citizens and non-U.S. nationals who do not have otherwise acceptable forms of ID for presentation at its security checkpoints. In this instance, the TSA TDC will look at the DHS-issued document (for example, I-94, I-862) for an alien identification number (A-file) and validate the document either by the CBP One™ mobile application or by the TSA NTVC. For all travelers, if an individual does not have acceptable ID as listed on TSA’s acceptable forms of ID list, TSA will accept additional forms of ID that have the individual’s name, with preference given to Government-issued ID. One of the two forms must have the individual’s name and identifying information such as a photo, address, phone number, social security number or date of birth.

For all travelers who lack acceptable ID, TSA uses the NTVC, which attempts to verify a traveler’s identity by using the individual’s information along with information from government and commercial databases. All such individuals receive additional screening procedures as described in the Checkpoint and Specialized Screening Standard Operating Procedure.

a. Please list each document.

DHS-issued forms that TSA may accept at the checkpoint include the following:

  • ICE Form I-200 – Warrant for Arrest of Alien
  • ICE Form I-205 – Warrant of Removal/Deportation
  • ICE Form I-220A – Order of Release on Recognizance
  • ICE Form I-220B – Order of Supervision
  • DHS Form I-862 – Notice to Appear
  • CBP Form I-94 – Arrival and Departure Form (including a print-out of an electronic record)
  • DHS Form I-385 – Alien Booking Record

5. If the alternate document was provided by a federal agency, has that agency confirmed to TSA the document confirms the identity of the alien and is sufficient documentation to allow them to fly?

TSA relies on issuing agencies (for example, CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to verify that the person to whom they provide documentation is the person whom the person claims to be. Because these documents are alternatives to acceptable forms of ID, TSA determined that additional screening is warranted before permitting the individual access to the sterile area.

6. Please share any policies and procedures related to airport Federal Security Director (FSD) responsibility in screening passengers with no identification.

Once a passenger’s identity is verified at the TDC, the passenger receives appropriate screening (standard, expedited, or additional) as described in the TSA’s Checkpoint and Specialized Screening Standard Operating Procedure before being allowed into the sterile area of an airport. In all cases where a traveler’s identity cannot be established, the airport’s FSD has discretion to determine what level of additional screening is needed. The FSD may decide that there is no level of screening which is acceptable and then deny the prospective passenger access to the sterile area.

7. Is a letter from a non-government organization sufficient for TSA to confirm the identity of a traveler?

A letter from a non-governmental organization (NGO) is not sufficient documentation for TSA to grant admittance to the sterile area of an airport.

8. What health screenings are aliens required to undergo prior to boarding a plane to ensure they are not putting other passengers at risk? Who verifies that the screenings have taken place and where is that information logged?

TSA does not require health screening as a condition of admittance to the sterile area of an airport.

9. Are airlines made aware of aliens traveling on their flights?

TSA does not inform airlines of the citizenship status of passengers.

10. What policies or procedures are in place to coordinate with federal, state and local law enforcement regarding the transportation of illegal immigrants throughout the country?

TSA’s statutory mission is transportation security. If a 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. Immigration status is not a factor in the TSA screening process. While some special screening procedures require coordination with law enforcement (for example, when an individual is under law enforcement escort), those processes apply broadly.

1 Secure Flight Passenger Data includes the passenger’s full name, date of birth, gender, passport number, country of issuance if provided, Known Traveler Number if available, Redress Number if available, and flight itinerary-related information such as airline operator, flight number, and departure/arrival airports, dates, and times.