I’d call this “too bad to check,” except that Republicans in Congress have already checked it. By May 2023, the Department of Homeland security will require Americans to produce a “real ID” in order to board airplanes, part of its security regime to prevent terrorism and crime.
For now, though, illegal immigrants don’t have to present any cognizable form of ID to fly the friendly skies of the US. And members of Congress want to know why:
House Republicans on Tuesday are calling for the Biden administration to provide additional information on what they call an “extremely troubling” policy that allows illegal immigrants to board planes using civil arrest warrants and other related documents as ID.
Two dozen Republicans, led by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., have written to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas seeking answers on the Transportation Security Administration policy, which allows illegal immigrants to use civil immigration arrest warrants and deportation orders that are not included on TSA’s acceptable form of ID list.
“These documents are not secure documents and can easily be forged, copied, or otherwise manipulated,” the letter, obtained by Fox News Digital, says. “Given the fact that American citizens are constantly being reminded that their IDs will soon need to be REAL ID compliant to board an airplane, it is extremely troubling that TSA is allowing illegal aliens to use nonsecure documents as IDs to board planes.”
Is this really happening? Yes, as DHS admitted last month. TSA Administrator testified in a Senate hearing in July that the number of such presentations was “under 1,000,” but definitely higher than zero. TSA requires Americans to present state- or federal-issued identification to get past the security checks; their list notably does not include arrest warrants:
Adult passengers 18 and older must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel.
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
“Arrest warrant” doesn’t appear once here. Every acceptable form listed is a government-issued document specifically intended as identification, even now, and by next year the list will narrow further to the far more intrusive “real ID.” TSA does have a caveat at the bottom of list that says that they have worked with DHS to use other forms of “acceptable alternate identification for use in special circumstances at the checkpoint,” but someone would have to explain how an arrest warrant enhances security for air travel.
And as for the “under 1,000” number, let’s not forget that the event that triggered all of the modern security processes and literally created the TSA was conducted not by “under 1,000” travelers, but under twenty. Nineteen hijackers/terrorists conducted the 9/11 attacks that killed over 3,000 Americans in 2001. Ever since, the rest of us have endured both rational security processes as well as plenty of “security theater” in order to access air travel. How do “arrest warrants” work as ID for the rest of us? Rationally speaking, that should result in an arrest at the gate, not a walk down the skyway — and would in other cases.
The Republican critics are skeptical about the TSA’s estimate, as well as claims that arrest warrants result in “further vetting”:
“This number seems extremely low given the fact that DHS has released nearly 500,000 illegal aliens into the United States so far this year,” they wrote.
TSA has argued that the process involves additional vetting. Pekoske said at the Senate hearing that the presentation of a warrant marked the beginning of a further verification process.
TSA argues that they validate the identification on the arrest warrant with databases at the Customs and Border Patrol, but that raises another question. Just how accurate are their initial identifications of detained border crossers and asylum applicants? Those who get caught more than once will give false names to avoid getting immediately snagged by the CBP and DHS. This is about as far from the “real ID” process Americans have to endure now to get their own identification for driving, let alone flying.
Alejandro Mayorkas and Joe Biden owe answers on this not just to Congress but to the American public. The only action that an arrest warrant should prompt any law-enforcement agency to take is to put the holder of one into custody. If immigrants want to access our public systems, they should enter the country legally.