This story is so insane that it sounds like an urban legend, a claim you’d stumble across on an Internet message board and then start googling in the belief that it must be a mistake.
It’s not a mistake. The Daily Caller broke the news a few days ago, citing a letter that TSA itself sent to GOP Rep. Lance Gooden. Fox News contacted the agency to confirm it and it’s now confirmed. If you’re here illegally and you have an official DHS arrest warrant or removal warrant, you can present that to TSA at an airport as valid proof of ID and fly the friendly skies.
But is there less to this than meets the eye? We need to think through the logistics.
That’s the key bit from the letter to Gooden, right there in black and white. “All passengers whose identity is verified through alternate procedures receive additional screening before being allowed into the secure area of the airport,” TSA assured Fox. Which is nice, but doesn’t explain why known illegals with proof of their illegal status are being allowed to fly.
Question, though: Under what circumstances would an illegal immigrant carrying a copy of his own arrest warrant be walking free? If he has a copy of his warrant then he must have already been arrested. He’s not wanted. Presumably he’s awaiting an immigration adjudication and has been released on his own recognizance. Ideally all illegals would be held in custody until their status is adjudicated but there are too many of them and not enough holding cells to make that feasible, which is how we ended up with the national fiasco known as catch and release.
The point is that an illegal bearing a copy of his own arrest warrant isn’t necessarily on the lam. ICE has already found him and processed him and let him go for whatever reason, papers in hand. Once he’s free, the warrant serves as confirmation by the federal government that the bearer is the person named in the document, which is why TSA is treating it as authoritative as to identity.
And unless I’m mistaken, the only arrest warrant TSA will accept is a warrant for immigration offenses, like entering the United States illegally. Here’s a sample of the relevant form, Form I-200. They’re not accepting criminal arrest warrants and then waving him onto the plane. I hope.
Note, however, that the letter to Gooden also says TSA is willing to accept Form I-205 as proof of identity. That’s a warrant of deportation:
Unlike with the arrest warrant, I can’t imagine a scenario in which an illegal would be walking free with one of those documents on his person. By that point his adjudication would have already taken place and he’d presumably be in custody and en route out of the U.S. All I can think is that maybe TSA is willing to accept the deportation warrant as proof of identity for the deportation flight itself. I.e. when ICE brings a detainee to the airport for a flight back to Central America, all they need to do to get him through the security checkpoint is show his Form I-205.
As for why illegals are allowed to fly in the first place, even if they’re not under a removal order at the time, that’s … a good question. If we don’t want the undocumented disappearing into the United States instead of showing up for their deportation hearings, one obvious thing to do would be to make it harder for them to travel internally. Biden and his party wouldn’t dare pass legislation to that end but it’s something for the GOP’s 2025 agenda, hopefully.