Since the rollout of the first Arab and Muslim Ban, ADC has increasingly received reports of bias-motivated questioning by DHS and CBP officers including about persons political and religious beliefs. In other cases, individuals have been questioned about their social media usage and requested to provided usernames for all their social media platforms. Public documents reveal intent to streamline this profiling of travelers into an automated system to make determinations on entry and removal under the Extreme Vetting Initiative.
The Administration’s Extreme Vetting Initiative is multilayered with both known and unknown components. Under one component, ICE seeks to automate the process by which the U.S. government targets, finds, and forcibly removes people from our country, likely including permanent residents. But this system will not work the way ICE says it will work. Instead, it risks hiding politicized, discriminatory decisions behind a veneer of objectivity – at great cost to freedom of speech, civil liberties, civil rights, and human rights. It will hurt real, decent people and tear apart families.
The dangers of categorizing and predicting anyone with data is that you are almost by definition creating generalizations, and most generalizations are correlations that are largely inaccurate with detrimental consequences. We have seen over and over again that predictive tools (not immune from bias) get it wrong.
This component seeks to predict behavior, an seriously flawed concept, and ascertain a rank for risk to violate immigration law and/or committing a crime, and make decisions on persons immigrant applications and entry based on their rank. The stated factors to be evaluated in this determination is: (1) would be “a positively contributing member of society,” (2) would “make contributions to the national interest,” and (3) intended to commit a crime or terrorist act (Muslim Ban factors). But algorithms do not work like this, an algorithm cannot determine whether a person is positive contribution to society.
Another component is social media collection and monitoring. Through a series of rulemaking, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun to further entrench and implement the Administration’s Extreme Vetting Initiative. These rulemakings set in motion vast collection and retention of social media information, and ongoing monitoring of all individuals entering the United States on both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Truly troublingly, is that 1) individuals will be subject to recurring monitoring even after entry into the United States and throughout their stay in the United States; and 2) the information collected is retained even after the individual becomes a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen.
There are serious concerns that the collection, retention, use, and sharing of social media information will (1) invade the privacy of immigrants and U.S. citizens alike; (2) chill freedom of speech and association; (3) invite abuse in exchange for little security benefit; and (4) establish a system that treats naturalized citizens as second-class citizens.