Posted on April 3, 2018 at 11:34 AM
Those who seek to enter the United States on either an immigrant or non-immigrant visa may now have one more hoop to jump through. On top of providing their telephone numbers, travel records, email addresses, and disclosing whether they have been deported from a country in the past, they will also have to disclose the details and usernames of all social media they have accounts in from the last five years. Trump aims to implement this harsh policy to reduce terrorism in the States, but many have reacted with outrage.
American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project director Hina Shamsi stated:
This attempt to collect a massive amount of information on the social media activity of millions of visa applicants is yet another ineffective and deeply problematic Trump administration plan.
This sentiment has been echoed across the nation by many human rights activists and civil leaders, calling heavy scrutiny to be placed on this potentially faulty policy.
In the past, visa officials only required this information if there was an issue with determining the applicants’ identity or if there had been red flags from other areas in the applicant’s lives. Many feel that this is sufficient, however, now it will be standard practice, whether the applicant is desiring an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant visa.
While it is not yet confirmed which sites will be required to be reported, it is speculated that Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram are among those that will be screened. In addition, they may also include international platforms such as QQ and Weibo from China and VK from Russia. Other social media sites could be required to be listed, but these are the most likely to be heavily combed through.
There are some applicants who will get a pass in this process, specifically 40 of the United States allies such as Japan, South Korea, Canada, and France. However, they may be required to disclose the information if the 90-day limit of the visa-waiver program is going to be exceeded.
If this policy were to pass, then 14.7 million applicants’ social media will be filtered through, creating much more work for the officials conducting these visa approvals. While this could be a positive side effect as it could create more jobs, it is also a very costly and inefficient process that will be added to an already engorged budget. The Office of Management and Budget is the first of the departments that have to approve this measure due to the heavy financial burden that this policy will entail.
In addition, it is likely that this will reduce the volume of immigrants applying for visas, which would affect many different facets of America but in particular colleges. Many of the non-immigrant visas were applied for by students desiring to study in American schools, and this could eventually raise prices of tuition and fees due to decreased applications for universities. The public can still weigh in on this policy and voice their concerns until it the 60 days have passed before the Office of Management and Budget repeal or approve this proposal.