WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan), is calling on the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine ways to eliminate discrimination in travel screenings by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Peters is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Many of Peters’ constituents in Michigan, especially those from the Muslim and Arab American communities, have shared reports of potentially discriminatory enhanced screening processes, which can be invasive, humiliating and detrimental to efficient travel.
Peters asked the GAO to examine whether current TSA and CBP travel screening policies discriminate against or have disparate impacts on any particular communities on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion
Before the Nov. 3 election, Peters, who secured his Senate seat against challenger John James, spoke of the need to end discriminatory practices at airports and ports-of-entry at The Arab American News offices. That was part of a discussion that also touched on foreign policy issues and environmental concerns in the Dearborn area.
Peters was endorsed by both this publication and the long-running Arab American Political Action Committee, as was the case with his first Senate race.
In a letter, Peters asked the GAO to evaluate the problem and suggest improvements that may be the basis for future legislation so individuals in Michigan and across the country can have peace of mind about the travel screening process.
He also asked the GAO to examine whether current TSA and CBP travel screening policies discriminate against or have disparate impacts on any particular communities on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.
“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) each have unique responsibilities for screening travelers entering or leaving the country or traveling within the United States,” Peters wrote. “With nearly three million passengers flying in and out of U.S. airports every day in 2019, these critical security agencies help keep our country and travelers safe.
“Recent reports have indicated that many individuals still experience profiling based on characteristics including race and religion in traveler screening, and it is of vital importance that the federal government implement measures to prevent any discrimination based on these constitutionally-protected characteristics.”
As part of this effort, Peters called on the GAO to analyze the effectiveness of existing redress processes, data collection practices and threat evaluation programs. Finally, this letter requests the GAO to provide recommendations on how to eliminate potential discrimination in travel screening processes moving forward.
Peters has vowed to continue to lead the charge in ensuring that all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, receive equal treatment in the travel screening process.