By Andrew Walden
Thousands of airline passengers on domestic US flights are using forged IDs to get past TSA screeners and board commercial flights under assumed names.
Just days after the al-Qaeda Panty Bomber tried to blow NW Flight 253 out of the sky, evidence leading to acquittals in a Honolulu illegal alien smuggling case has exposed the US Transportation Safety Administration’s repeated failure to spot phony IDs. All of Honolulu illegals were Mexican—but they got past TSA screeners as they flew to Hawaii from California on regularly scheduled domestic commercial flights.
Oahu farm managers David Kato and Glen Kelley McCaig faced a ten-day jury trial in the Federal Courtroom of Judge David Ezra. The charges stem from a July 20, 2008 immigration raid on a Waipahu, Oahu apartment house.
Federal prosecutors told the jury nearly 100 illegals were able to get past TSA screeners using “micas”-- falsified identification cards obtained from Southern California forged-document mills. And the forgeries weren’t very good. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin December 31 reports:
The backs of the cards contained numerous spelling and typographical errors.
The errors include "Deparment," "Departament," "Adminstration," "identifield," "punishible," "ins't," "Homel and Security" and "United State of America."
The front of one card said it was newly issued by the Department of Homeland Security while the back of the card said it had been issued by the Department of Justice.
And not a single card presented as evidence in the trial had a hologram on its face like a real permanent resident card.
Defense lawyers argued that Kato and McCaig could not be expected to spot the forgeries if the TSA did not. And a Honolulu Federal jury apparently agreed, coming back with a December 30 not guilty verdict on all 17 counts.
The Waipahu raid is not an isolated incident. Many farm workers on the Big Island are reputed to be illegals recruited from California. Anonymous leaflets have occasionally circulated in Kona demanding deportations. In a 1997 Star Bulletin interview, a labor contractor in Kona describes how he entered the US illegally at Miami after evading Pinochet’s forces in Chile. He received a Green Card in the 1986 amnesty. To recruit workers he places ads in California newspapers offering round-trip airfare and other incentives to prospective coffee pickers and speaks of having “a lot of brotherhood for people who will take the risk to work hard." A farmers’ spokesperson asks: “Who else will harvest the coffee?” Thirteen years later the same system is still at work supplying labor to Big Island farms.
The Hawaii Carpenters Union has complained about contractors hiring illegal aliens on Honolulu construction sites while union members sit at home unemployed. In 2008 sixty-two were arrested—including Mexicans, Brazilians, and one European--in two separate raids on one Maui construction site. On one Honolulu jobsite 17 illegals were arrested in December, 2007.
In June, 2008, raids on three Maui restaurants turned up 22 Mexican illegals.
US Customs screens only international arrivals. Jim Kosciuk, spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Honolulu, tells Honolulu Magazine:
“We’ll encounter two or three cases of forged documents a week, and that’s not counting the instances when we refuse entry to people for other reasons, such as previous criminal records…. I don’t recall any instances of people sneaking in via a boat, and I’ve been here for 12 years.”
In 2007 Hawaii Immigration Court heard 574 cases—32% involving Mexicans. Hawaii has substantial numbers of illegals from China, the Philippines, and other Asian countries, but they likely arrived on direct international flights, passed through customs with valid ID, and then overstayed their visas. There are no direct flights from anywhere in Latin America to Hawaii.
Accurate counts of illegal aliens are inherently difficult to come by. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates 3,000 illegals were living in the Hawaiian Isles in 2007. A 2006 study by the PEW Hispanic Center puts the number between 20,000 and 35,000.
The fact that illegals already in the US are willing to risk capture by passing through airport screening carrying poorly made forged IDs to fly to Hawaii implies that among some illegals, TSA has a reputation for slackness.
What good is a no-fly list if terrorists can fly with a new name and a “mica”?
Andrew Walden edits www.HawaiiFreePress.com