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Only 2 days after New York City was threatened in an ISIS video, at least 150 international passengers were able to leave JFK airport without getting their passports or bags checked by customs. The flight was arriving from Cancun, Mexico.
“Some passengers on Flight 1671 did not complete immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal,” American Airlines said in a statement.
American Airlines contacted the passengers and directed them to return to JFK for customs processing. An official told The News on Sunday that 144 passengers had returned to the airport and gone through customs. The six that remain are all U.S. citizens, the official said. American Airlines is working with Customs and Border Protection to ensure they “complete the process and to prevent this from happening in the future,” the company also said in the statement.
This whole thing just seems too little, too late. If anyone actually entered the United States with malicious intent and left the airport unchecked, would they really bring any suspicious materials or possessions back to the airport with them to be checked by customs? Of course not.
“None of us went through immigration or customs,” a passenger told The News, adding, “There were no signs for customs or anything. The only signs we saw were baggage claim and exit.”
The passenger complained Saturday that agents have “been harassing me with phone calls — they’re coming from high-up people at American Airlines, (Transportation Security Administration) and customs . . . . They’re very aggressive.” Another passenger also said that agents had been reaching out constantly.
“They’re telling me that I am here illegally, that I’m trespassing!” the passenger said. “They said, ‘If you don’t come in Monday, we’re sending FBI agents to your house.’ ”
The TSA may be working hard to correct the error, but the damage to national security has already been done. This kind of unforced error is unacceptable. The TSA needs to step it up, or be fired and replaced by people who are competent and up to the task.