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Tag: visas

ICE Seeks Help from Social Media Companies to Spy on Visa Holders

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration’s increasing battle against illegal immigration may soon include tracking the social media feeds of foreign visitors.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement told software providers that it’s seeking “algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the U.S. and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk,” ProPublica reports. 

The move appears to be part of Trump’s demands for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, raising criticism from immigrants and civil liberties advocates.

ICE is searching for “risk-based metrics” to indicate potential dangers posed by visa holders, who could remain under continuous surveillance while in the U.S., according to Louis Rodi, deputy assistant director of ICE Homeland Security Investigations’ National Security Program, who spoke at a recent tech industry conference in Arlington, Va.

“We have millions and millions and millions of people coming every year, and subsequently departing, so we have to be smart about it,” said Rodi to a room of representatives from companies like Microsoft, Accenture, Deloitte and Motorola Solutions. “And I’m sure there are tools out there that can help.”

The program, however, has not begun, stressed ICE spokeswoman Carissa Curttel.

“The request for information on this initiative was simply that—an opportunity to gather information from industry professionals and other government agencies on current technological capabilities to determine the best way forward,” Cutrell wrote in an email.

Trump Administration Slaps Visa Restrictions on 4 Countries over Immigration Response

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Trump administration has slapped visa sanctions against four countries for their refusal to allow for the return of citizens whom the U.S. is trying to deport.

Homeland Security and the State Department confirmed the sanctions but declined to list the four countries.

Sources told the Washington Times that the countries were Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The administration is using an effective, but rarely used tool for requiring compliance.

“We can confirm the Department of State has received notification from the Department of Homeland Securityregarding four countries that have refused to accept or unreasonably delayed the return of its nationals,” a department official told The Washington Times.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Arrests Iraqi Refugees Who Failed to Disclose Brother’s Involvement in Kidnapping of American

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Iraqi refugees living in Northern Virginia were arrested by the FBI after failing to disclose their brother’s involvement in a 2004 kidnapping of an American contractor in Iraq, the New York Times reports. 

The refugees, Yousif Al Mashhandani, 35, of Vienna, Va., and Adil Hasan, 38, of Burke, Va. admitted they didn’t make the disclosure when applying for citizenship, according to a criminal complaint. They were charged with visa fraud.

The Times wrote:

The F.B.I. said it had learned the brothers withheld the information when Mr. Mashhandani was fingerprinted as part of the citizenship process. When those fingerprints were analyzed in 2013, they matched those on a document seized by American commandos during the rescue of the contractor, Roy Hallums, in 2005.

The arrests come as President Trump is seeking to bar visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Iraq was originally among the countries but was later removed from the ban, which is being challenged by federal courts. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that the United States needs to strengthen its borders to protect itself from terrorism.

As part of an investigation into the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, F.B.I. agents interviewed Majid Al Mashhandani, the brother of Mr. Mashhandani and Mr. Hasan, in 2005. He admitted taking part in the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, who was held for 311 days in an underground bunker with other hostages south of Baghdad.

Democratic Senator Calls for Investigation of Trump Model Management

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Democratic senator is calling for a federal investigation into Trump Model Management after a Mother Jones’ investigation uncovered alleged labor and immigration violations.

At least four Trump models, who were non-U.S. citizens, claimed they were on tourist visas while working for the company owned by Donald Trump.

“I am extremely concerned by the claims levied against Trump Model Management and ask that you open an investigation into the company’s employment practices,” Boxer wrote in a Wednesday letter to León Rodríguez, the director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she found Mother Jones’ report to be “disturbing,” calling on the agency to “make clear that immigration and labor violations like these will not be tolerated.”

Mother Jones wrote:

Two of the former models told Mother Jones that they were coached on how to evade the scrutiny of immigration and customs officers by using fake pretenses for entering the country and even writing false addresses on customs forms.

While working for Trump’s agency, the models said, they were charged exorbitant rent to bunk with other Trump models in cramped, dormitory-style quarters while competing for coveted work visas. Those who didn’t make the cut were sent home—but not until after rent and other fees were deducted from their Trump Model Management earnings.

Border Patrol Proposes Asking for Social Media Handle of Visitors in Visa Waiver Program

Facebook_logo-2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The federal government has come under fire for a proposal to ask for the social media handles of people visiting the country under the visa waiver program.

Civil liberties advocates say the proposal goes too far, but counterterrorism experts counter it’s not far enough, NBC News reports. 

Border Patrol submitted the proposal to the Federal Register last month that would include a social media section to visa applications. Answering the question would be optional.

Counterterrorism experts are trying to learn more about people before they enter the country.

Homeland Security Releases List of Countries with Visitors Who Overstayed Their Visas

visasBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security released an estimate of foreign visitors who overstay their permits to be in the U.S., Pew Research reports. 

About 416,500 people remained in the U.S. this year after their visas expired in fiscal 2015. That’s out of 45 million people whose visas expired during that period .

Canada led the list of overstays with an estimated 93,035 still in the U.S. Mexico was second with 42,114, followed by Brazil with 35,707.

Homeland Security released the data under pressure tom Congress.

But the information is incomplete because it’s difficult to track how many people have remained in the U.S.

Homeland Security Official Grilled Over Screening Visas for Potential Terrorism Ties

lvisasBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Homeland Security official was grilled by a House committee over the lack of social media screening for people trying to enter the U.S. on visas for refugees, The San Francisco Gate reports. 

Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that checking social media in refugee cases often yields little results.

Congress wants to know how thoroughly the U.S. examines the backgrounds of people seeking to come to the country.

The issue has taken on an urgency after it was discovered that one of the San Bernardino shooters came to the U.S. on a K-1 fiancé visa in July 2014 after passing multiple background checks.

The FBI said Tashfeen Malik never publicly posted her allegiance to jihad on Facebook but instead sent private messages.

Homeland Security Considers Plan to Check Social Media During Visa Reviews

visasBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson decided in early 2014 to continue barring immigration officials from reviewing social media posts of people trying to enter the U.S. on a visa, The Hill reports. 

Johnson’s reasoning was that proponents of civil liberties would denounce checking social media and that the practice would cause “bad public relations.”

“During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security for intelligence and analysis, told ABC News.

But beginning in the fall of 2014, Homeland Security began vetting social media for some foreigners applying for a visa as part of a pilot program.

The news comes after the discovery that one of the San Bernardino shooters pledged allegiance to Islamic jihad on Facebook.

“Had they checked out Tashfeen Malik … maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, who supports a program for reviewing social media sites of foreigners applying for a visa.

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