TUCSON, Arizona — Migrants recently released by the Border Patrol waited patiently to board flights leaving the region at the Tucson International Airport on Friday afternoon. The event marks their last day on the southwest border and their first day of free movement across the United States.
Despite the firm requirements for United States citizens and legally admitted international travelers to possess valid forms of identification to board aircraft, the migrants were shuffled through a “special” security screening line set up by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), specifically for migrants — many without any identification whatsoever.
A TSA sign guides “Non-U.S. Citizens without Passports to a special screening line. (Randy Clark/Breitbart Texas)
As Breitbart Texas watched, several regular travelers were politely told to exit the special “migrant security line” because they were not non-citizens. The migrants traveling on Friday carried manila envelopes that contained a Notice to Appear and documents showing the migrants were released from federal custody on their own recognizance.
None of the computer-generated documents bear photographs of the migrants or appear on the list of TSA-acceptable identification. Breitbart Texas spoke to several migrant family groups who said they were waiting for an afternoon flight to LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York.
An NGO staffer escorts migrants through the Tucson International Airport to a special TSA screening line. (Randy Clark/Breitbart Texas)
The migrants were brought to the airport by non-government migrant shelter volunteers who escorted small groups of migrants through the terminal prior to takeoff time. The “guide” explained the layout of the airport. The migrants were guided to the ticketing and baggage area and subsequently directed to the TSA security checkpoint for “non-U.S. citizens without passports.”
TSA Acceptable ID Sign
According to the current TSA regulations, adult passengers 18 and older must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint to travel. Acceptable identification listed by the TSA includes state driver’s licenses, U.S. passports, DHS trusted traveler cards, U.S. Department of Defense ID, Legal Permanent Resident cards, and foreign passports, among other similar government-issued photo-bearing identification cards.
A caveat at the bottom of the list reads, “In coordination with its DHS counterparts, TSA has identified acceptable alternate identification for use in special circumstances at the checkpoint.” This likely refers to the procedures that allow migrants released by the Border Patrol to board aircraft without such identification.
The latest surge of migrants crossing into the United States in Arizona has resulted in the increase of migrants being released into the country to pursue asylum claims as Border Patrol-run facilities at the border remain over capacity. According to a source within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 4,000 migrants are being held in the Tucson area in a space designated to hold slightly more than 2,600.
Tucson Migrant Releases (Randy Clark/Breitbart Texas)
As reported by Breitbart Texas, detention capacity and transportation issues have resulted in hundreds of migrants waiting days for transportation at the foot of the border wall in Lukeville.
The source says capacity issues facing the Border Patrol and the need to quickly release the migrants pose a significant risk to national security. According to an investigative report by the DHS Office of the Inspector General, in April 2022, one migrant on the Terrorist Watch List was released by the Border Patrol in Yuma, Arizona. The report noted a series of failures by multiple DHS agencies resulted in the failure to conclusively determine that the migrant was on the Terrorist Watchlist, resulting in the release from custody.
The migrant and family members were later encountered attempting to board an aircraft by TSA security screening personnel at the Palm Springs International Airport. Despite the second encounter by DHS personnel, the migrant was ultimately able to travel to Tampa, Florida, and was not rearrested by ICE for more than two weeks.
In the report, Border Patrol agents assigned to process migrants at the Central Processing Center (CPC) in Yuma revealed the inherent security risk of dealing with a significant surge in migrant crossings. The unidentified agents told investigators, “The Yuma CPC was over capacity following an increase in apprehensions, which created pressure to quickly process migrants and decreased the time available to review each file,”.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, the Border Patrol apprehended nearly 190,000 migrants entering the United States illegally at the southern border in November. The Tucson Border Patrol Sector, which includes Lukeville and San Miguel, continues to lead the southwest border with the apprehension of nearly 119,000 migrants during October and November. More than 17,000 migrants crossed into the Tucson Border Patrol Sector in one seven-day period in December.