Fox News

Molly Butler / Media Matters

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Fox News falsely claimed that airports are allowing migrants through security without identification

Fox utilized the incorrect statement to fearmonger about potential terrorism caused by migrants and repeat the racist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory

Piggybacking on a misleading social media post from right-wing podcaster Dave Rubin, Fox News repeatedly pushed the false claim that migrants are not required by the Transportation Security Administration to have a form of identification approved by the US government to pass through airport security. Fox personalities and guests seized on this to fearmonger about migrants being potential terrorists and to promote anti-immigrant conspiracy theories.

  • TSA requires migrants to show physical ID or provide identifying information including but not limited to an “alien identification number” when traveling

    • On January 18, Dave Rubin made a post on X (formerly Twitter) claiming that a TSA test run of an app called CBP One for verifying migrant identification actually meant that migrants “don’t have to have an ID to get through security and it’s their choice whether they want their picture taken.” “This is the state of absolute insanity happening at our airports,” he wrote, alongside a picture of a notice about CBP One. [Twitter/X, 1/18/24]
    • Since its 2020 launch, the CBP One app has been a tool for the Department of Homeland Security to identify and track asylum-seekers and expedite their application process. CBP One’s main purpose is to facilitate travel and immigration office appointments for migrants. [U.S. Customs and Border Protection, accessed 1/22/24; The Washington Post, 2/20/23]
    • Contrary to Rubin’s claims, DHS requires a photo of every migrant utilizing the app, collects users’ biometric information, and can require them to provide their GPS location. According to DHS’s “privacy impact assessment” of the CBP One app, migrants permitted to travel are asked to either have another photograph taken by TSA or instead submit biographic information to cross verify with information added to a DHS database. “Every migrant's photo (taken at arrest) is in a DHS database. TSA uses the CBP One app to pull up the photo and confirm the person's identity—then everyone goes through the scanners like normal,” American Immigration Council policy director Aaron Reichlin-Melnick wrote on X. “It's just an alternate form of ID verification!” [Department of Homeland Security, accessed 1/24/24; American Immigration Council, 6/2/23; Twitter/X, 1/18/24]
    • Migrants are not the only people who can decline getting their photo taken. All travelers regardless of status can say no to a picture. Rubin's claim about a special exception for migrants is a false characterization of a policy applied to everyone and Fox continued to use that mischaracterization. [Transportation Security Administration, accessed 1/24/24]
    • Fox has a history of baselessly accusing migrants and immigrants of being potential terrorists. Last November, Fox made at least 97 claims alleging or speculating that a car crash on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara, New York, was an act of terrorism committed variously by Muslims, Arabs, Palestinians, or their supporters. In the four weeks after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Fox fearmongered about Middle Eastern terrorists at the U.S. border over 400 times. [Media Matters, 11/13/23, 11/28/23; The Daily Beast, 11/22/23]
  • Fox News used false claim about migrant travel and ID requirements to fearmonger about migrants threatening the U.S.

    • Echoing the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, Fox anchor Julie Banderas suggested that allowing migrants to use CBP One as identification was part of a Democratic scheme to import new voters. Banderas said, “The reason they do not want these pictures of these people is because these are future voters, and God forbid we ask Democrats to agree to like a voter registration card with your ID on there so you're actually identified as a voter.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 1/19/24; Media Matters, 1/12/24
    • Citing Rubin, Fox host Kayleigh McEnany claimed that “migrants catching flights in the United States are now allowed to fly without photo identification” and fearmongered about the TSA supposedly releasing a migrant who was later arrested on suspicion of terrorism. McEnany said, “I’ve gone up to TSA many times and they make me take my picture, they make me show identification, but the Senegal terrorist guy who’s wanted on terrorist charges who’s roaming the interior, he goes to Miami International airport and you don’t need a photo?” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 1/19/24
    • Former Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) floated the possibility of another 9/11 caused by migrants not identified by airport security. “I'm always worried about another 9/11,“ Flores claimed. “This could happen again, especially now that they're not checking these people. We don't know who they are and what their intentions.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/18/24]
    • Fox “straight news” show America’s Newsroom hosted Rubin to fearmonger about the TSA’s supposed lack of migrant vetting. “They are not even migrants because that implies that they are only here for work,” Rubin said. “We have no idea what these people are here for.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 1/22/24]
    • Former NYPD investigator and Fox News contributor Paul Mauro implied that the TSA policy would allow Venezuela to empty its “prisons” and “mental institutions” into the U.S., invoking a decades-old example of a Cuban “former mental patient” who attacked an usher at a New York City church in the 1980s. “We had a guy here right in the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, former mental patient in Cuba, in the church, stabbed somebody to death.” He added, “We don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they came from and it’s coming out now that Venezuela is doing what Castro did in the 1980s.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/19/24]
    • Former acting ICE director and Fox News contributor Tom Homan called a lack of identification a “big national security risk” and warned that it could welcome terrorism. Homan claimed, “We don't know who these people are. Even some vetting procedures, vetting is only as good as the information we have access to. We don’t have information on Syrians, natives from Turkey, or many countries across this globe that are sponsors of terror.” [Fox News, America Reports, 1/19/24]
    • Fox contributor Nicole Parker argued the supposed lack of identification is to blame for a rise in “potential terrorist threats.” “If you’re a migrant, you don’t have to show an ID,” Parker claimed. “Not only do you not have to show an ID, getting your picture taken is optional. How does this even happen?” Parker said, “We wonder why there are all these potential terrorist threats going on. We are [as] wide-open as possible. This is dangerous for our country.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 1/18/24]
    • Former deputy attorney general and “torture lawyer” John Yoo argued that “allowing people who are here illegally to get on planes without any proof of ID” would prevent authorities from identifying those on terror watch lists. On Fox, Yoo said, “I was shocked when I saw that news that the TSA is allowing people who are here illegally to get on planes without any proof of their ID so you can't run their names against a terrorist watch list or against a TSA database to prevent them from getting on the plane if they are dangerous.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 1/19/24; Media Matters, 4/13/23]