Gaetz Demands Transparency From Delta CEO After Viral Posts About Illegal Immigrants

Gaetz Demands Transparency From Delta CEO After Viral Posts About Illegal Immigrants

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Lawmakers have raised concerns about national security and an apparent two-tiered security standard that requires ID for citizens but not illegal immigrants.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has raised national security concerns about Delta Air Lines’ role in transporting illegal immigrants from the U.S. southern border into the country’s interior without being “properly vetted.”

In a letter to Delta CEO Ed Bastion on Friday, Mr. Gaetz urged transparency regarding arrangements between the airline, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) facilitating transportation.

“It has recently come to my attention that Delta Air Lines is transporting non-resident aliens from the southern border of the United States into the interior of the country,” Mr. Gaetz wrote. “The United States Congress has an interest in understanding pursuant to which arrangements with federal agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) non-resident aliens are able to book and travel on Delta Air Lines flights.”

Sparked by claims in viral social media posts, Mr. Gaetz cited national security concerns around NGOs that receive taxpayer funds buying flights for illegal immigrants who have not been vetted and who seem to be boarding flights without proper identification.

These concerns were also put to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday. Mr. Cruz sought information about the screening procedures for illegal immigrants crossing the border via the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) “CBP One” app and being helped onto flights to the country’s interior from southern border locations.

‘Alarming’

In his letter to the Delta Air Lines boss, Mr. Gaetz said, “As you are likely aware, certain NGOs receive federal grants, including through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program and Shelter and Services Program, making it possible that these NGOs are using federal money to purchase flights for non-resident aliens on Delta Air Lines.”

The Republican congressman echoed Mr. Cruz, saying it was “alarming” that American taxpayers are paying for illegal immigrants to fly around the country from the U.S. southern border who “may not be properly vetted.”

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“Therefore, I am concerned the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may be allowing nonresident aliens to board flights, including those operated by Delta Air Lines, with an alternate form of identification that meets a weaker standard than that used to verify the identities of American citizens when they fly,” he added.

Mr. Gaetz sought answers from Ms. Bastion to the following questions:

  1. How many nonresident aliens has Delta Ait Lines transported on behalf of governmental or nongovernmental organizations since January 20, 2021?
  2. How do NGOs purchase or reimburse your airlines for the tickets of non-resident aliens?
  3. Are you now receiving, or have you ever received, any incentive to reimbursement, including money, credit, or other benefits from the federal government, in exchange for the transport of nonresident aliens?
  4. Has the TSA notified you of what forms of identification are acceptable for nonresident aliens to clear airport security and board your flights? If so, what are they?

The Epoch Times contacted Delta Air Lines for comment.

 A placard asking for help with boarding a flight is displayed on a vacant seat beside Central American illegal immigrants Lidia and Isaac (unseen) aboard their flight from McAllen to Houston after being released from a U.S. government holding facility for illegal immigrants seeking asylum in McAllen, Texas, on March 30, 2021. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)
A placard asking for help with boarding a flight is displayed on a vacant seat beside Central American illegal immigrants Lidia and Isaac (unseen) aboard their flight from McAllen to Houston after being released from a U.S. government holding facility for illegal immigrants seeking asylum in McAllen, Texas, on March 30, 2021. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Viral Claims

The issue first came to light on Dec. 19 in a viral post on X, formerly Twitter, by conservative commentator Ashley St. Clair.

“My Delta flight from Phoenix appears to be flying migrants who crossed the border and are being shipped to New York,” Ms. St. Clair wrote in a post that included a video of herself at the boarding gate.

Ms. St. Clair said that when she queried the matter with “a Delta representative,” he responded by saying, “What does it matter, they’re humans too.”

The situation raised questions for the commentator, who wrote: “What is happening???? Are taxpayer dollars paying for this????”

Following Ms. St. Clair’s post, other reporters have posted on X about similarly boarding flights filled with illegal immigrants reportedly released by CBP into the country and flying onwards.

On Dec. 22, Fox News reporter Bill Melugin shared a photo on X of illegal immigrants standing in dedicated security lines at the airport in Tuscon, Arizona. He wrote that the terminal “is full of illegal immigrants released into the U.S. with their DHS paperwork.”

While flying out of Laredo, Texas, that same day, Tenet Media reporter Taylor Hansen said that “almost every person in the airport is an illegal migrant” and that an “@AmericanAir rep told me more illegal migrants fly out of this airport on a daily basis than Americans.”

In a follow-up post on Dec. 22, Ms. St. Clair said she was “in possession of legitimate major airline boarding passes for migrants that quite literally have the name printed as ‘NO NAME GIVEN.’” She did not specify which airline.

The Epoch Times viewed a photo of one such boarding pass with “NO NAME GIVEN” dated April, with other identifying information redacted, indicating this has been an ongoing issue only recently brought to light.

Two-Tiered Security

In Mr. Cruz’s letter to the DHS secretary, the potential for terrorists to take advantage of gaps in the CBP One app’s identification system was chief among the concerns he expressed, in addition to an apparent two-tiered security standard for American citizens and illegal immigrants.

Ahead of arriving at the southern U.S. border, migrants can upload a facial photo, their name, and date of birth. Upon arrival, migrants without a passport are routinely paroled, allowing them into the country based on the name they provide.

The problem with this system, Mr. Cruz noted, is that agencies like TSA and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “later rely on the unverified CBP One data as if it were verified.

“For example, if the paroled alien later tries to fly out of a U.S. airport, TSA may use his unverified name and date of birth in CBP One to verify his identity, even though the person may in fact be a terrorist or other criminal traveling under a fake identity,” the Republican senator from Texas wrote.

His letter to Mr. Mayorkas also pointed out an apparent two-tiered standard that requires American citizens to prove identification to fly while illegal immigrants are boarding flights on trust alone.

“While Americans must present an acceptable form of identification to fly, or at least have their identities confirmed, TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is permitting illegal aliens without ID to opt for an alternate identity verification process utilizing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ‘CBP One’ app,” Mr. Cruz wrote.

He noted to Mr. Mayorkas that the process “takes illegal aliens at their word,” in the process of being furnished with DHS documents that allow them to board flights at airports.

“In effect, TSA is applying one standard for verifying the identities of American citizens, and another, weaker standard for ‘verifying’ the identities of illegal aliens. This is alarming,” Mr. Cruz wrote.

The United States has been granting parole to approximately 1,600 migrants daily through ports of entry, facilitated by the CBP One app. This app enables migrants to submit photos and relevant information, as well as arrange appointments with CBP officers.

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