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Senate Republicans quiz Biden admin on TSA allowing illegal immigrants to use warrants for ID

Senators warn Biden using warrants as travel documents could pose 'serious threat to our nation’s homeland security'

By Adam Shaw | Fox News

FIRST ON FOX: Senate Republicans have written to the Biden administration, requesting information about the Transportation Security Administration's practice of allowing illegal immigrants to use civil immigration arrest warrants as identification and warning that the practice is a security threat.

"Permitting the use of ICE arrest warrants as travel documents is at best illogical, and at worst a serious threat to our nation’s homeland security," 10 U.S. senators led by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The letter is signed by Tillis, as well as Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.; Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; Roger Marshall, R-Kansas; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

TSA confirmed to Fox News that it is allowing the warrants, which represent civil immigration enforcement and are not criminal arrest warrants, as an alternative. The Daily Caller had first reported the TSA’s response to a congressional inquiry on the matter by Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas. 

"For noncitizens and non-U.S. nationals who do not otherwise have acceptable forms of ID for presentation at security checkpoints, TSA may also accept certain DHS-issued forms, including ICE Form I-200," a TSA spokesperson told Fox News. That refers to a civil immigration arrest warrant.

The agency added that the document will then be validated via an "alien identification number" that involves personally identifiable information being checked against a number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) databases, including the CBP One mobile application and TSA’s National Transportation Vetting Center (NTVC).

"To confirm the identity of an individual and ensure they are not on the no-fly list or pose a known threat to public safety or national security, TSA verifies the identity of every traveler before they are permitted to enter the secure area of an airport," a later statement from TSA said. 

"Noncitizens without a standard form of identification may instead present certain DHS-issued forms to a TSA officer. These forms are civil immigration violation documents, do not include criminal arrest warrants and are not indicative of a threat to public safety or national security." 

The practice of accepting alternative forms of IDs from illegal immigrants is a practice that predates the Biden administration, with the letter noting that the I-862 (Notice to Appear) was green lit as acceptable identification during the Obama administration in 2014.

But Republican lawmakers have expressed particular bewilderment at the use of the arrest warrants, which explicitly include a command for immigration authorities to "arrest and take into custody for removal proceedings" the immigrant. They connected the policy to the continuing crisis at the southern border.

"We are deeply concerned that the use of ICE arrest warrants is driven by either the inability or unwillingness of the Biden administration to address the border crisis," they wrote, linking the crisis to "the decision by President Biden to systematically dismantle successful enforcement policies which helped to secure our southern border and deter illegal immigrants."

More than 178,000 migrants were encountered at the border in December alone, and approximately 2 million in all of 2021. The lawmakers note a number of criminal incidents involving illegal immigrants, as well as more than 300 sex offenders nabbed by ICE, as evidence of the dangers of an "uncontrolled border."

They request from the administration information including when the I-200 was first allowed by TSA as identification, the justification for the policy, information about how the policy was approved, what additional verification methods are taken and why those immigrants are being allowed to fly rather than deported.

"This policy appears not only to be misguided but also to defy the purpose of these arrest warrants in the first place," they argue.

Fox News' BIll Melugin contributed to this report.