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Study finds big holes in vetting of international flight school applicants in US

Government Security News

The Transportation Security Administration is working to close significant holes in its security and immigration checks of foreign flight school applicants, said a study released on July 18 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In 2010, gaps in immigration information allowed 25 illegal aliens to get pilot training at a Boston area flight school that was operated by an illegal alien, according to the study. In March 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigated a Boston-area flight school after local police stopped the flight school owner for a traffic violation. The police discovered he was in the country illegally, said the study.

After the incident, ICE launched a broader inquiry into the students enrolled at the flight school and found 25 of the foreign nationals at the school had applied to the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP). Those applicants, it said, had been approved by TSA to begin flight training after their security threat assessment had been completed. ICE’s investigation and GAO’s subsequent inquiries found a number of problems, however.