DHS to Track Immigrants’ Social Media Activity (Even for Naturalized Citizens)—Atlanta Immigration Attorney Insights

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The Department of Homeland Security on Oct. 18 will begin collecting social media information from all immigrants in the United States. This data will include user names, search results, aliases, and associated identifiable information.

Although the Obama Administration introduced pilot projects that collected social media data on some immigrants and refugees, under the Trump Administration, the DHS not only will track social media information from all new immigrants but will also monitor data on green card holders and naturalized citizens who are already in the country.

If you are worried that recent changes to U.S. immigration policies will affect your ability to enter the U.S., turn to Kuck Immigration Partners. Our attorneys have handled tens of thousands of immigration matters over the past 27 years. Call 404-816-8611 to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer in Atlanta.

DHS Was Unclear on How Social Media Data Will Be Used

A report from the New York Times points out several ambiguities in the DHS’s new policy. For instance, the DHS has not clarified whether it will only examine social media data during the application process or will continue doing so afterward. Also, the department has not been transparent about how it will use the data it collects.

Critics Argue the New Policy Is an Unnecessary Intrusion in Personal Privacy

Under the Obama Administration, USCIS only examined the social media data of Syrian refugees when a person had been flagged in an intelligence database. But now that the DHS intends to collect social media information from all immigrants, privacy advocates are concerned that the new policy will affect U.S. citizens who have social media correspondence with immigrants.

Opponents of the new policy also claim that it deters freedom of speech.

Supporters Argue the 2015 San Bernardino Shooting Pressured DHS to Monitor Immigrants’ Social Media Accounts

Supporters of the DHS’s new policy claim that the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. may have been prevented if immigration authorities had monitored the perpetrators’ social media accounts. According to investigators, shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik had exchanged private online messages related to jihad and martyrdom in the months before the attack.

In December 2015, a pilot project began that screened the social media profiles of fiancé visa applicants, the same visa program that Tashfeen Malik used to enter the United States.

From enhanced immigrant screening to an unprecedented increase in ICE arrest rates, it goes without saying that U.S. immigration policies have become much stricter under the Trump Administration. If you are worried that the new policies will affect your immigration goals, turn to Kuck Immigration Partners.


Charles Kuck is the past National President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Call 404-816-8611 today to schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney in Atlanta. You can learn more about U.S. immigration proceedings by visiting the USAttorneys website.

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Charles Kuck

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