Breach leads to more insecurity at O'Hare

Temp agency found using deactivated airport security badges


Oh no, it happened again. Another security breach at O'Hare.

In a string of recent raids, authorities have arrested more than 30 illegal immigrant workers fraudulently using color-coded security badges at the airport. Their employer, Ideal Staffing Solutions, a temp agency in Bensenville, allegedly used deactivated airport security badges. In one instance, a manager told an employee to pick a badge that most resembled his own likeness. Talk about Cracker Jack security.

How is it possible that people using fake identities were allowed into secure areas of the airport? Some workers loaded freight and food on the airplanes and had access to the tarmac.

This is the second major raid of illegal workers at O'Hare. The last one was in 2002. That one netted Chicago's most famous illegal immigrant, Elvira Arellano, who later sought refuge in a storefront church for a year before she was deported this past summer.

After her arrest, she stated, "I am not a terrorist." Neither are the Mexicans and Central Americans arrested in the latest raid.

But if a real terrorist wanted to infiltrate the airport, he could have easily done so by getting a temp job with Ideal Staffing Solutions.

Chicago's Aviation Commissioner, Nuria Fernandez, won't take sole responsibility for this latest O'Hare screwup. In the Sun-Times, she blamed the employers for hiring the illegal workers and also the Transportation Security Administration, a division of U.S. Homeland Security. The Transportation department is charged with conducting background checks of employees and verifying their fingerprints.

The Aviation Department is supposed to track the badges and fine companies who don't return those that have been deactivated. They won't say how many might be floating around out there. "That's security-sensitive information. By federal regulation we cannot release that," an Aviation Department spokeswoman told us.

Or maybe they just don't know, and don't want to admit it. Or maybe they do and are ashamed. They should be.

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