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US investigates allegations that screeners at Hawaii airport targeted Mexican travelers
HONOLULU (AP) ' The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said Thursday it is investigating allegations that screeners at Honolulu International Airport have targeted Mexican travelers for extra screening.
The statement came in response to a recent letter from U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, who cited a report by Honolulu television station KITV about allegations lodged by two TSA employees that officers known as "Mexicutioners" targeted Mexican passengers in an attempt to appear productive to supervisors.
Honolulu airport is where dozens of employees were fired or suspended this year after an investigation found workers did not screen checked bags for explosives. It was the single largest personnel action for misconduct in the TSA's history.
Thompson said he wants a suspension of a program known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique, or SPOT, which involves officers trained in detecting behavior, such as facial expressions, of those who intend to do harm.
The allegations "resulted in launching an immediate and thorough investigation of the behavior detection program at HNL," the TSA said in a statement referring to Honolulu's airport code.
Thompson gave the TSA until Dec. 16 to provide information including the agency's internal report on Honolulu's SPOT program. He requested specific steps taken to address the racial profiling allegations, and a list of countries of origin for each foreign national arrested as a result of a referral from TSA behavior detection officers in Honolulu.