Securing our homeland is a tough job. Not only do we have to monitor the ports, skies, and borders, the 9/11 terrorist attacks proved we also need to worry about who we let in our door and what they do while they are here. A new government report questions how well Homeland Security’s TSA monitors the identities, criminal records, and immigration status of those attending U.S. flight schools. Has the Homeland Security strategy been compromised by addressing the president’s policies on the economy and job creation, instead of devoting all of its resources to security? Since we know job creation is a loser for the time being, maybe the agency should refocus efforts on what we pay it to do, like checking out foreigners who want to be pilots.
TSA guidelines threaten more than pat-downs
TSA guidelines on searching airline passengers have not made the agency popular with travelers. A Government Accountability Office report that asks how well we scrutinize flight school students will not help TSA’s reputation:
TSA vets foreign flight student applicants through AFSP, but weaknesses exist in the vetting process and in DHS’s process for identifying flight students who may be in the country illegally.¹
Immigration overstays are still a problem, despite the role poor overstay tracking played in the 9/11 attacks. The longer a foreign national stays in the country, the easier it is to acquire an American identity. The Obama administration has already made it too easy for illegals to remain here.
Much has been made of the White House criminals-only approach to enforcing immigration laws, but TSA guidelines ran into problems figuring out whether criminal immigrants are learning to fly:
TSA also faces challenges in obtaining criminal history information to conduct its security threat assessments as part of the vetting process, but is working to establish processes to identify foreign nationals with immigration violations.²
Is the DHS aviation security strategy about the economy?
Whether or not stumping for failed job creation policies helps to secure the homeland, Janet Napolitano seems to expend a lot of effort propping up the White House. When she talked about aviation security in 2010, she talked about the economy:
“Over the past year, DHS has put the Recovery Act to work in communities across the country—making significant investments in aviation security, while boosting the American economy,” said Secretary Napolitano.³
Is securing the border about job creation?
Aviation security is not the only area manipulated to put in a good word for the president. Despite the SBInet boondoggle and reports of problems securing stretches of the border (see: Homeland Security’s Southwest Border Fantasy), discussions on the Homeland Security strategy for the southwest was a chance to talk about saving public sector jobs:
To continue to support local law enforcement and first responders across the country, Secretary Napolitano highlighted the importance of the American Jobs Act – which would provide $5 billion in assistance to states and local communities to create or save thousands of police and first responder jobs.4
Does a bad economy make us forget the big picture on aviation security?
It is difficult to sell Americans on amnesty for the sake of votes, so a big part of selling White House immigration policy is shifting the focus to job creation. Announcing policy changes to make sure America latches on to gifted immigrants, DHS again hopped on the jobs bandwagon:
Echoing this, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness stated in its recent report, “Highly skilled immigrants create jobs, they don’t take jobs.”5
Some highly skilled immigrants create jobs. Some of them fly jets, too, and carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since we are not accomplishing much on the jobs front, perhaps our Homeland Security strategy can devote a little more time and effort to other areas, so we don’t have to hear warnings like this:
Some foreign nationals receiving flight training may not have undergone a TSA security threat assessment.6