The Department of Homeland Security wants to know your social media handles if you are traveling to the United States.
CREDIT: GIPHY Originals / GIPHY
The Department of Homeland Security is trying to introduce a section for social media handles on the form required by foreign travelers to enter the country. According to CNN Money, the proposed social media question was originally supposed to be an optional part, but a leaked document is proving otherwise. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol claim that the move to include social media identifiers to the form is a matter of national security.
“Collecting social media identifiers may help detect potential threats because experience has shown that criminals and terrorists, whether intentionally or not, have provided previously unavailable information via social media that identified their true intentions,” a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson told CNN Money.
The digital rights activist organization Access Now leaked the document and people are feeling like:
There is tough news out of Washington this week that could make chasing the American Dream cost a lot more. According to a report published on Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing raising a range of fees for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship, as well as an increase in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal fees. There would also a proposed charge for asylum applications, which would charge $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. As of now, only Fiji, Australia and Iran currently do this for asylum applications.
The price hikes would make the cost of citizenship applications go up by 83 percent, from $640 to $1,170. This would primarily affect roughly 9 million immigrants that are eligible to become U.S. citizens. DACA fees would also see a substantial rise as they would increase from $495 to $765. News of this fee hike comes in the same week that the Supreme Court heard arguments on the validity of President Trump’s justification to terminate DACA.
The reasoning for the proposed price hikes and new fees is to help cover new expenses at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS, said that this will help the agency cover new costs in the last few years due to an increase in citizenship applications.
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimize subsidies from an already over-extended system,” Cuccinelli said in a press release. “Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request.”
As of now, the agency will have a period of 30 days to receive public opinion, as established by law. The plan then is expected to go into effect Dec. 2, while the comment period will remain open until Dec. 16.
After the comment period ends next month, USCIS is then obligated by law to consider comments on the proposal before any of the new fees can put forward. This time period is key for millions of immigrants that are eligible to naturalize and become U.S. citizens before such fees rise. Immigration advocacy groups are calling forward to those groups as they may have only a few weeks before these price hikes go into effect.
“If you were lacking motivation before, it’s now even more important because this outrageous rule aims to price out low-income and working-class immigrants from U.S. citizenship and so many other immigration benefits,” Diego Iñiguez-López, NPNA’s policy and campaigns manager, said in a statement to NBC News.
These proposed price hikes come at a time when the overall percentage of lawful immigrants living in the country that are willfully applying for and gaining citizenship has reached its highest level in more than 20 years. That can’t be said for Mexican Americans who fall behind other groups when it comes to naturalization rates. This is also despite being the biggest group of lawful immigrants in terms of country of origin.
“This is one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable,” Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration, told Buzzfeed News.
Advocacy groups call the price hikes an attempt to further hurt those with already limited resources.
Boundless, an immigration services firm, called the proposed price hike another blow to immigrants trying to come into the U.S. The firm says that increased fees target the poor and those in vulnerable positions by pricing them out of citizenship.
“Once again, this administration is attempting to use every tool at its disposal to restrict legal immigration and even U.S. citizenship,” said Doug Rand, the group’s co-founder, told the Washington Post .“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.”
Pew Research Center, a reliable source for polling about U.S. politics and policy, found that Americans like ICE the least of all federal agencies. While public trust in federal institutions is at a historic low, many expressed favorable views of agencies that provide social services and goods.
Unsurprisingly, the U.S. postal service (free mail delivery!) ranked highest with 90 percent, with the National Park Service coming in a close second at 86 percent, and NASA in at third with 81 percent.
However, Pew notes, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the sole agency asked about in the survey viewed more negatively (54% unfavorable) than positively (42% favorable), while the public is divided in its view of the Department of Education (48% favorable, 48% unfavorable).”
ICE ranked the worst federal agency by Americans.
While ICE is the most hated federal agency, the distaste for the organization is largely split across partisan lines. About 70 percent of Republicans and right of center independents view ICE favorably, but only 19 percent of Democrats and left of center independents do. However, overall ICE had the lowest favorability ranking of the bunch with the least percentage of 42% and the highest percentage of unfavorability with a percentage of 54.
Other organizations that were ranked unfavorable were ones that appear to be failing the public, the second most-hated was the Department of Education, and the third most-hated was Veterans Affairs. Both of the organizations have been under scrutiny for years, while the Dept of Ed. has come under more fire under United States Secretary of Education and Trump appointee Betsy DeVos.
Criticism of ICE mounts with Abolish ICE.
Abolish ICE is a political movement that advocates for the abolition of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Abolish ICE has gained more momentum since 2017 when the Trump administration began ramping up stricter immigration policies, including banning Muslims, diverting $6.2 billion in funds to build a wall at the southern border between U.S. and Mexico, and utilizing a child separation policy.
Abolish ICE proponents note that ICE was created in 2003, and thus, it is not necessary to monitor immigration and maintain border security.
“In this era, ICE has just taken off the gloves, going full throttle without regard to consequences,” Katrina Eiland, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project, told PS Mag. “This is a perfect example of that. They don’t have any logical enforcement priorities anymore—everyone is an enforcement priority.”
While ICE was initially intended to monitor and deport immigrants who commit crimes in the U.S., under the Trump administration, and sometimes in Obama’s, it has been used to track those who have committed the “crime” of entering the U.S. without documentation.
Activist and writer Sean McElwee is credited with popularizing the #AbolishICE hashtag in 2017 which catapulted it into a movement in the real world spawning protests. The Hill also notes that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brought the call to action into the political sphere.
“The biggest moment for the Abolish ICE movement though came after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, upset Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), in a primary. As she leapt into the spotlight, she brought the calls to abolish ICE, into the national debate,” according to The Hill.
“Within days of her victory, abolishing ICE had become a litmus test for Democrats running in the midterms and for those seen as potential 2020 presidential contenders.”
Advocates believe ICE is a tool of white supremacy.
ICE has used increasingly brutal tactics like force-feeding detainees on hunger strikes, arresting citizens on the basis that they “look Hispanic,” and arresting undocumented immigrants when they show up for court appearances.
The ACLU believes ICE and Border Patrol have increasingly abused their power, claiming their removal tactics take away immigrants’ rights to a fair hearing and that they potentially violate many of the Fourth Amendment’s protections including, ” the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and freedom from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and national origin.”
“The central assumption of ICE in 2018 is that any undocumented immigrant is inherently a threat. In that way, ICE’s tactics are philosophically aligned with racist thinkers like Richard Spencer,” McElwee told PS Mag.
“Though the [Democratic] party has moved left on core issues from reproductive rights to single-payer health care, it’s time for progressives to put forward a demand that deportation be taken not as the norm but rather as a disturbing indicator of authoritarianism.”
Pew notes that just 17 percent of adults say they trust the federal government to do what is right, while 71 percent say they trust the government “only some of the time.” While it remains to be seen if ICE will ever be abolished, it is clear that the majority of Americans would prefer it that way.
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