Oppose Unwarranted Airport Employee Dismissals!
Over the next year, thousands of trained, experienced airport baggage screeners will be fired simply because they are not yet US citizens. Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, enacted last November by Congress, a number of reasonable requirements were established for "security screening personnel" including a civil service exam, a high school diploma or equivalent experience, physical and mental requirements, background checks, training, and competency in written and spoken English. The bill also establishes one very unfair requirement, that screeners be US citizens.
The citizenship requirement would bar legal immigrants from working as airport screeners even though no such requirement exists for members of the U.S. military, airline pilots, baggage handlers, flight attendants, cargo loaders, mechanics, guards or plane cleaners. Currently, lawful permanent residents make up approximately 25 percent of airport screeners nationwide, and in some airports the number approaches 80 percent. The federal government will have to replace the current workforce, resulting in a situation where new workers replace experienced workers, possibly decreasing the safety of our nation's airports.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have introduced legislation (S. 1829) that would provide a partial remedy by allowing non-citizen baggage screeners who are within one year of becoming US citizens to keep their jobs as well as speed up their applications for citizenship. And in the House, Representatives Hilda Solis (D-CA), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Mike Honda (D-CA) have proposed a full repeal of this requirement (H.R. 3505).
We are a nation of immigrants. It is un-American to stereotype lawful non-citizens as undesirable, dangerous, disloyal, criminals, or terrorists. It is unacceptable to summarily fire them.
Airport Security Personnel Protection Act!
The citizenship requirement is arbitrary.
Pilots, flight attendants, and other employees with access to secure areas may be non-citizens, but not baggage screeners. Branding non-citizen airport workers as inherently dangerous or disloyal is wrong; branding one group of such workers as inherently suspect is unreasonable and unacceptable.
The citizenship requirement is unfair.
Lawful residents serve in the U.S. armed forces and the National Guard (including those assigned to screening stations) and yet legal U.S. residents who are veterans of the armed forces will be dismissed as screeners. Non-citizens are loyal patriots, too, and there is no reason they should be singled out simply because they are not yet citizens.
Requiring baggage screeners to be citizens could undermine airport security.
The categorical exclusion of thousands of qualified and experienced screeners from consideration for screener positions will have no positive impact on security. Government studies show inadequate training, turnover, and other factors - not citizenship status - cause problems at airports.