TSA Investigates Traveler Profiling Allegations at Honolulu Airport

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires employees sniff out any potential threats to airport security, but recently TSA officials in Hawaii have been suspected of racial profiling a certain group of travelers.

TSA is investigating allegations that screeners at the Honolulu International Airport (airport code HNL) have been profiling Mexican travelers for additional screenings.

Two TSA screeners spoke to a local Honolulu television station, KIVT, on Nov. 7 about the alleged “Mexicutioners,” as they were referred. Along with the two accusers, several other airport screeners claim the alleged profilers are responsible for the majority of illegal alien arrests at the Honolulu International Airport – primarily descendents from Mexico.
The allegations “resulted in launching an immediate and thorough investigation of the behavior detection program at HNL,” the TSA said in a statement. “Pending the completion of the investigation, TSA also provided HNL Behavior Detection Officers refresher training to ensure the program is focused solely on identifying suspicious behaviors.”
TSA released a statement and began investigating the situation in Honolulu in response to U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, who wrote a letter to TSA about KIVT’s profiling reports. In his letter, Thompson demands the suspension of a TSA program known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT), officers are trained to detect potential harm by observing physical behavior. Thompson gave the airport until Dec. 16 to provide an internal report of all foreign arrests as a result of SPOT.
According to TSA procedure, every arrest is reported and TSA officers are required to compile photocopies of detainees’ passports, boarding passes, ID and visa to TSA managers; the information is then forwarded to Washington, D.C. and uploaded in the TSA system.
The tropical airport has been under quite a bit of TSA hot water recently.
In September, 28 TSA employees at the Honolulu airport were fired following a 2010 investigation that revealed the employees were not properly screening checked bags for explosives. Another 15 employees were suspended, and an additional three retired or resigned. TSA officers are required to check all bags before stored on a plane; whether carry-on or checked. 

The Honolulu airport is now receiving complaints from 38 civil rights groups – including the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union – led by the Sikh Coalition, demanding an independent TSA audit to determine if the government agency is guilty of racial profiling. This audit demand which was sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, comes after one of the alleged HNL profilers was recently promoted.

Posted by Christina Miralla on Dec 02, 2011

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