Arizona Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) recently pressed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and demanded answers regarding the department’s decision to allow illegal immigrants to fly on commercial airplanes without presenting acceptable identification.

“President Biden’s DHS is failing to adhere to its mission of ‘safeguard[ing] the American people, our homeland, and our values,'” Biggs said in a statement. “Transporting potentially tens of thousands of lawbreakers throughout the country — with virtually unknown backgrounds — is a national security risk and defies the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission. It also incentivizes more illegal immigration to our country at a time when the border has already passed its breaking point.”

In a letter co-signed by 23 other House Republicans, including Arizona Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08), Biggs brought accusations against Mayorkas. The Republicans stated that, in January 2022, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed to members of Congress that 45,000 illegal immigrants had been allowed to board planes without proper identification between January and October 2021.

According to the TSA, acceptable ID includes a driver’s license, U.S. passport, permanent resident card, HSPD-12 PIV card, and a veteran health identification card, among others. However, the Republicans allege that the illegal immigrants used “DHS-issued documents” that do not qualify as acceptable ID.

Moreover, in the current calendar year, TSA Administrator David Pekoske stated that “under 1,000” illegal immigrants have been allowed to board a plane using improper identification. This identification included arrest warrants and deportation notices.

According to the letter, DHS Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs Alice Lugo told Congress that several DHS documents, including I-862s (Notice to Appear) with an I-385 (Alien Booking Record) and ICE documents such as I-220As (Order to Release on Recognition) or I-220Bs (Order of Supervision), are accepted by the TSA as identification. Biggs argued that these documents “can easily be forged, copied, or otherwise manipulated” and therefore are not secure. He said this news is “extremely troubling” as illegal immigrants can use nonsecure documents for identification, while American citizens will have to use “REAL IDs” by May 2023.

Moreover, Biggs slammed the DHS for, either directly or indirectly, using taxpayer dollars to transport illegal immigrants across the country, which he called a “slap in the face” to all law-abiding Americans.

To end the letter, Biggs presented several questions for Mayorkas to answer, including how many immigrants have been flown using improper IDs since January 2021, how many immigrants the DHS paid to transport throughout the United States, and how many non-governmental agencies have received grants from the DHS to transport the individuals. The Republicans requested that all answers and required documents be presented by September 9. Congress is preparing to debate the fiscal year 2023 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, and the Republicans “need information” to determine how the DHS used appropriated funds.

“Secretary Mayorkas must immediately discontinue this appalling practice and provide us an immediate breakdown of how the department spent its appropriated funding on these operations,” Biggs said.

In February, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) introduced the SECURE Flights Act of 2022, which would prohibit any TSA agent from accepting “prohibited identification” such as arrest warrants or deportation notices presented as identification. Taking it a step further, if anyone tries to present a prohibited ID to TSA personnel, that administrator must notify ICE, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and local law enforcement to see if the individual has violated any term of release. No listed actions have yet been taken on this act since its introduction.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Andy Biggs” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Alejandro Mayorkas” by World Travel & Tourism Council. CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “Delta Airlines” by Aleksandr Markin. CC BY-SA 2.0.