U.S. airline passengers are facing unnecessary security risks as they head into the busy holiday travel season because federal efforts to resettle illegal migrants around the country are bypassing well-established security tactics, a Texas congressman says.
Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) says illegal migrants are being provided letters asking the Transportation Security Agency to allow them to skip normal ID verification requirements because they lack official documents, instead being put through an alternate security screening process that checks luggage and ensures they aren't carrying dangerous objects.
Gooden provided Just the News one such letter provided a 46-year-old Honduran migrant who was allowed to travel from San Diego, where he had been detained, to Louisiana earlier this year.
"The individual(s) standing in front of you have recently been discharged from a U.S. immigration detention facility and must cross the country to present themselves for an ICE check-in approximately two weeks from now," the letter read. "They are currently showing you all of their identifications in their possession, which should be adequate for them to be able to be searched in Secure Flight."
The congressman added some U.S. air marshals have told his office they have arrived on what are supposed to be empty planes for a preboarding security sweep, only to find a migrant already pre-boarded.
"We've had several reports of some air marshals, you know, air marshals, when they board a flight, they have to go and identify themselves to the pilot and the crew, 'Hey, I'm armed, I'm going to be on your flight,'" he said. "Typically, that happens before anyone boards, in some cases they've boarded. And ... these packet holders, I'll call them, are already seated in their seats.
"So if we're if we're talking about folks who were coming across our borders who aren't just looking for a good job somewhere, but perhaps the terrorists from Iran or Russia or wherever, they're now seeing who the one armed person is on this flight," he said. "And we are creating situations that could be as bad or worse than Sept. 11. And it's it's very disturbing."
Gooden's office has published a whistleblower link on his congressional website to hear from others like the one who provided him with the travel packet. But he's also hearing from Americans from all over the country expressing their concerns about seeing illegal aliens in U.S. airports and not knowing where they're coming from or going or who is paying for their transport, and why.
He said a network of federal agencies and nonprofits, using both taxpayer money and private donations, are facilitating a mass resettlement of not-fully-vetted migrants into the interior of the country even though the current regulatory requirement — affirmed by the courts — is that asylum seekers should remain south of the border in Mexico until their case is adjudicated.
Gooden said he is drafting legislation to target nonprofits heavily involved in moving illegal aliens throughout the country. Corporate sponsors are enabling nonprofits to do this as well, he notes, donating money that they write off as a tax deduction — a practice Gooden hopes to stop.
"It's a disaster," he said. "And the fact that someone could actually get a tax break for helping someone who has broken the law by entering our nation, then settle into whatever area of the country they'd like — it's just stunning to me. And I think it's stunning to many Americans who are outraged by this. And we want answers, and we want it stopped."
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the incoming chairman of the House Freedom Caucus influential with conservatives, told the John Solomon Reports podcast he too is exploring the role of nonprofits in resettling foreigners who aren't lawfully in country and believes there is growing support for legislation to compel the Biden administration to enforce existing laws.
"I don't know why we're not prosecuting this," Perry said. "And it's funny that this story has come out now. A couple of weeks ago, I asked my staff to give me a list of all the nonprofits involved because, as you probably know, this whole thing was started during the Carter administration. A lot of these nonprofits are names that are familiar with their Catholic ministries, their Lutheran ministries, their faith based organizations that make a huge amount of money. And it's not just from donors. It's your tax dollars.
"And so that's your tax dollars that are going right to these organizations. And the worst part about it is that local communities have zero say about what happens with these illegal foreign nationals that are pumped into your community, you don't know their health status."
Jewish Family Service, the nonprofit that was involved in the Honduran immigrant's travel package, acknowledged it works with the Homeland Security Department to help resettle asylum seekers and believes its work is lawful.
The organization "provides shelter services for asylum seekers legally released into its care by federal government agencies (such as DHS)," the group said. "These asylum seekers are in the U.S. lawfully to exercise their legal, human right to seek protection from violence and persecution in their home countries. As the operators of San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN) Migrant Shelter Services, JFS remains committed to welcoming asylum seekers into our country, with public health as our top priority."
Every week, the SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services releases weekly data on the thousands of people it's helped. For the week ending Nov. 7, JFS helped transport 274 households, including 356 adults and 73 children. They primarily came from Russia, Ukraine and Jamaica.
JFS in one week alone oversaw 173 departures from San Diego to other parts of California and 368 departures to destinations outside of California in the U.S.
In the same week it also provided an average of 329 daily shelter services and 2,352 meals.
In addition to shelter services, JFS also provides free or low-cost immigration legal assistance, including translating and submitting paperwork and assisting with removal defense. It also helps refugees, those with DACA status, and connects thousands of people to housing, employment, and education. It argues that it is resettling people to "adjust to a new culture and way of life."
Former acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan has also sounded the alarm, telling Just The News that national security is jeopardized when federal officials do not definitely know the identity of people being let into the U.S. He adds that well-funded nongovernmental organizations have become an essential part of transporting people into the interior of the country.
"The NGOs are absolutely assisting the smugglers in completing the final chain of the smuggling operation," Morgan said. "Without the NGOs, the smugglers would not be as effective as they are.