Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, June 6, 2019
The federal agency tasked with overseeing security at transportation hubs has been violating its own policy by allowing migrants who have been released from federal custody onto flights despite not having required documents, according to several Department of Homeland Security officials.
For the past six months, the Transportation Security Administration has allowed migrants released from the custody of other Homeland Security agencies to board flights to other parts of the country despite the passengers lacking any of the 15 documents it states are the only acceptable forms of identification.
ICE often drops people off at bus stations, where nongovernmental organizations that have been alerted to the drop-offs send volunteers to help migrants make travel arrangements to join family members in other cities. The agency then wipes its hands clean following the releases. ICE would not comment on the legal precedent for undocumented immigrants boarding flights in the U.S.
So instead, those looking to depart the border via regional airports become TSA’s burden. If TSA chose to turn away people at airports it would apply more pressure to overwhelmed bus companies like Greyhound and local motels in border towns, complicating an already dire situation for localities struggling to care for this demographic.
TSA was unaware initially which documents its security officers required for migrants to board flights.
Its website states passengers over the age of 18 who are boarding domestic or international flights out of the U.S. “must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel.”
A TSA spokesperson initially told the Washington Examiner migrants were allowed to board flights if they could present the document they are given when they apply for asylum. The Notice To Appear, known by DHS as Form I-862, is a paper that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will give to a person who has passed a credible fear screening and will have his or her asylum case decided by a federal judge as many as five years down the road.
However, a USCIS official said TSA’s knowledge of protocol was wrong and that the latter agency would not provide any type of travel authorization document to a person who has passed a credible fear screening. The official said the NTA has one purpose and that was to tell recipients when to show up for court.
In its only statement to the Washington Examiner on its own policy violation, the agency said “TSA accepts identification documentation issued by other government agencies, which is validated through the issuing agency. All passengers are then subject to appropriate screening measures.”