Republican Senators Expand Investigation of Sanctuary Airports

March 7, 2024

As concerns rise over criminal aliens committing violent attacks, Commerce GOP press JFK, Logan on housing illegal immigrants


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate Commerce Committee Republicans, led by Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas), are expanding their investigation into the housing of illegal aliens at major airports nationwide. Today, senators sent letters to executive director of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority, owner and operator of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and the chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which has been housing illegal aliens at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). 


Commerce Committee Republicans first opened a probe of sanctuary airports in January. In a?letter?to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, the senators demanded answers regarding O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport’s housing of illegal aliens. One week later, reports indicated O’Hare International Airport was no longer housing illegal aliens.


The expansion of this investigation comes as concerns over illegal aliens committing violent crimes is rising nationwide, including at airports. On February 10th, an illegal alien from Ecuador being housed at JFK broke into a secure area of the airport while possessing two weapons. Given the protections self-declared “sanctuary cities” provide, the senators’ investigation questions the vetting process for illegal aliens being housed at these airports.


In a letter to New York Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton, the senators emphasized that the unprecedented practice of housing illegal aliens at airports goes beyond the scope of the FAA’s mission. 


“Never before in the history of American aviation has the FAA had to approve the use of airport facilities to house illegal aliens. Yet under Democrat leadership of the White House and liberal cities and states, this is now our nation’s reality, with thousands of illegal aliens living in America’s airports. It is a warped repurposing of America’s aviation system and is a direct consequence of the open border policies embraced by the far left and President Biden—and something which is only being made worse by the lawless sanctuary policies of places like New York and NYC.”


The senators also warned that housing illegal aliens in airports creates a serious security risk, particularly given the recent incident at JFK.


“Illustrating the very concern, on February 10, an illegal alien from Ecuador housed at JFK’s Building 197 broke into the secure area of the airport. When he was captured by Port Authority police, he was found with scissors and a box cutter. After being arrested and charged with trespass and weapons possession, prosecutors dropped the weapons charge and granted him an adjournment contemplating dismissal, effectively meaning the case will be dismissed if he does not re-offend within a set time. It would seem likely in the context of New York’s soft-on-crime, pro-illegal alien policies, these charges were significantly downgraded in order to avoid compromising this illegal alien’s immigration proceedings or chances of receiving immigration relief.”


In letters to both the New York-New Jersey Port Authority and the Massachusetts Port Authority, the senators express concerns about the airports’ capacity and procedures for vetting illegal aliens, particularly given sanctuary policies in New York and Massachusetts that allow the release of violent illegal aliens into the general population. In the letter to Massachusetts Port Authority Item Chief Executive Officer and Director Edward Freni, the senators write:


“Using a federally funded, public-use airport to house illegal aliens is inappropriate. It is especially inappropriate in this case, given the lack of vetting these illegal aliens undergo when entering the country. Massachusetts has already demonstrated it is willing to release violent illegal aliens into the general population, creating a real concern with how this practice might also have undermined airport security and could do so anywhere else the practice is repeated.”


“Although removed from the airport, these illegal aliens remain in the community, and residents are rightfully concerned that they have not been vetted and may have criminal backgrounds. These concerns are not merely theoretical. Massachusetts has endured a spate of violent crimes by illegal aliens who the Boston and Massachusetts legal systems released into the community and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials then had to track back down, detain, and remove.”


Click here for a list of examples from the past six months of illegal aliens ICE has detained due to violent crimes.


The letters conclude by asking the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Massachusetts Port Authority to turn over documents and answer a series of written questions regarding the housing of illegal aliens at JFK and BOS no later than March 18, 2024.


Joining Ranking Member Cruz in sending these letters were Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Todd Young (R-Ind.), JD Vance (R-Ohio) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.).


Click here for letter to New York Port Authority and here for letter to Massachusetts Port Authority.