Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren Fights For Airport Screener Rights

March 14, 2002
Press Release

Washington, DC‹ Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-16) today announced new legislation aimed at applying the same immigration requirements used by the U.S. military services to airport screeners.

The bill, titled The Military Standards for Airport Screeners Act, would seek to require that an individual who is eligible to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces must also be eligible to work as an airport screener.

“I am extremely disappointed that the administration is standing by while
hard-working airport screeners are being unfairly targeted, and legal immigrants can carry an M-16 in our nation’s airports as members of the National Guard,” said Lofgren. “There is no more important mission than protecting our country, but this effect was not the intent of the law.”

On November 17, 2001, Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which requires that airline screeners be U.S. citizens. Specifically, Section 111 of the Aviation Security Bill provided that security screeners needed to meet certain qualifications, including citizenship.

Twelve hundred (1,200) airport screeners in the Bay Area stand to lose their jobs, including an estimated 245 of them at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. Of the 245, 183 are non-citizens.

There is a one-year transition to a security force staffed by federal employees.
A pilot program will move the nation towards that goal by allowing five airports to use private contractors. However, the pilot program does not remove the citizenship requirement.