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NY Democrats Sponsor Boarding Pass Security Legislation

7/7/2011- Today, Representatives Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), and Kathleen C. Hochul (D-NY), members of the New York Congressional delegation and members of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced their co-sponsorship of the False Travel Documents Prohibition Act of 2011 (H.R. 2431).  The recent incident involving a passenger who was able to board a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) using a boarding pass and identification that were not his own has highlighted a security vulnerability in commercial aviation. The passenger, Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, was apprehended days later, while trying to board another flight and with at least 15 other invalid travel documents in his possession.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, is the primary author of the legislation.  It is also a companion measure to legislation that Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) has introduced for three congresses (S. 2845 – 111th Congress). 

Specifically, the bill would amend Federal law to make it a crime for an individual to knowingly possess, produce, or transfer a false or invalid travel document—e.g. a boarding pass, rail ticket, or airplane ticket.  This will ensure that an individual that presents a false boarding pass is subject to the same criminal penalties as an individual who knowingly presents a false driver’s license, passport or other identification at the airport checkpoint.  Additionally, the bill requires the Transportation Security Administration to provide recurring training to its workforce to help identify fraudulent identifications and boarding passes.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Ranking Member of the Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee released the following:

“I commend Ranking Member Thompson for introducing this important piece of legislation in the House.  As a representative from New York City, I understand the heightened sense of security since the September 11, 2001 attacks.  That is why it is critical to ensure that we hold travelers accountable who use fraudulent identification and papers in order to keep our nation safe.  I look forward to working with the rest of my colleagues to make this legislation law.”

Congressman Brian Higgins added the following:

“With today’s advanced technology, fraudulent documents are increasingly easier to make and more difficult to detect,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.  “This legislation will train those reviewing travel documents to detect fraud and close legal loopholes to ensure people who attempt to violate the law are held responsible, ultimately making travel safer for the American public.”

Congresswoman Kathleen C. Hochul released the following statement:

“The safety and security of our citizens must be our top priority,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  “As a Representative of an area with major airports and rail lines, I know how vulnerable our traveling public can be to individuals intent upon doing harm to our citizens.  This is why it is absolutely necessary that we increase penalties for offenders who use fraudulent travel documents to gain access to public transportation and increase training for TSA workers, so that we avoid any situation that threatens the safety of our nation.”

Representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) also co-sponsored the legislation.