DETROIT, MI – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report requested by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can eliminate the potential for discrimination in travel screenings. Peters originally requested the report in 2020 after Michiganders, including members of the Arab American and Muslim American communities, shared reports of persistent and potentially discriminatory enhanced screening practices. The report found that while TSA has taken steps to address this issue, the agency must improve the collection and tracking of data on incidents of potential discrimination during secondary travel screenings at airports, as well as improve information about how to file complaints. This will help inform training, procedures, and other efforts to prevent these intrusive and often unnecessary secondary screening processes. The report also found that TSA must implement a better system to track, monitor and address complaints of discrimination from travelers.
“Communities in Michigan – including our Arab and Muslim American communities – continue to face lengthy and intrusive screening when traveling. This report shows that while TSA is making progress, they must step up their efforts to prevent potential discriminatory screening practices that can affect families, businesses, and even people’s ability to enjoy their family vacations,” said Senator Peters. “The recommendations provided by this report will help me continue to hold TSA accountable, and support their efforts to secure our transportation system while upholding the civil rights and liberties of all travelers.”
Read the report here.
Peters has led efforts to ensure that all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, receive equal treatment in the travel screening process. At a hearing with the TSA Administrator, Peters raised concerns he has heard from communities in Michigan about challenges they continue to face during the travel screening process. Peters hosted Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas in Metro Detroit to meet with leaders from Michigan’s Arab and Muslim American communities to discuss travel screening and other civil rights issues. Following that meeting, Customs and Border Protection established a new position to serve as a community relations liaison between the agency and Michigan’s Arab and Muslim American communities.