Over the weekend the New York Daily News reported that, "JFK allowed passengers arriving on international flight to exit without going through Customs".
Reading through the article, one finds that it wasn't just customs that was bypassed, meaning that any contraband articles got through; it was also the immigration checks, meaning not only that excludable aliens got through, but that even legitimate nonimmigrant travelers are now free to roam around the United States without any official limits to their stay — in fact, without any official record that they ever entered. One also discovers that this has happened not once, but twice now at Kennedy airport, both times by American Airlines. (Perhaps they should rename themselves "Citizens of the World Airlines"?)
Once is shocking; twice is criminal negligence. The alien smuggling law prevents "any person" from bringing in, in any manner, individuals known to be aliens other than at a designated place. (See 8 U.S.C. Section 1324(a).) In this case, the "designated place" is the international arrivals port of entry, not a domestic arrivals-and-departures gate from which the passengers could (and did) deplane and walk away en masse. Under the law, corporations are "persons" – initiating the prosecution would make a point that apparently hasn't gotten through.
Better yet, at subsection (b) that same provision of law also permits seizure and forfeiture of the conveyance used to "bring in" aliens, in this case the commercial aircraft. The government should take it. (It would not be the first time this has been done with a commercial aircraft flown by a grossly negligent aviation company flying international routes; it was done in New Orleans several years ago.) What better way to make a point with an aviation company that can't or won't live up to its responsibilities?
The article also makes vague reference to "bumbling ... security officials". Wonder who that refers to? Seems like they should be facing some significant penalties too. The Homeland Security Office of Inspector General needs to get involved, take action, and ultimately issue a report on it; how else to restore public confidence in the border inspection processes of one of the largest international airports in the United States?