Tags: trump | extreme vetting | terrorism

WSJ: Trump Administration Eyes Far-Reaching Steps for 'Extreme Vetting'

Image: WSJ: Trump Administration Eyes Far-Reaching Steps for 'Extreme Vetting'
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By    |   Tuesday, 04 Apr 2017 10:08 AM

Details of the "extreme vetting" that President Donald Trump promised as a candidate on immigration are beginning to emerge which could include asking for cellphones, social media passwords, financial records and answering questions about ideology from foreigners wanting to enter the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.

White House officials have begun the process of reviewing vetting procedures that may also include intense security reviews and greater scrutiny in interviews, and may apply to countries that are U.S. allies.

The Trump administration justifies the measures because of the urgency in the fight against terrorism which calls for a stricter approach.

"If there is any doubt about a person's intentions coming to the United States, they should have to overcome — really and truly prove to our satisfaction—that they are coming for legitimate reasons," said Gene Hamilton, senior counselor to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The changes being considered have elicited controversy from civil libertarians and could also pose challenges if other countries impose similar restrictions toward Americans.

The changes stem from Trump's executive order last month that bans travel from six majority-Muslim countries. A federal judge in Hawaii put much of the order on hold, but allowed the work to continue on preparing vetting procedures.

Homeland Security officials expect to extend the process to all visa applicants including visitors, refugees and others looking to immigrate. It could also apply to the 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program, including allies like the U.K., France, Australia and Japan.

Perhaps seen as the biggest change is asking applicants to turn over their cellphones for a review of contacts and other information.

The goal was to "figure out who you are communicating with," a senior DHS official told the newspaper. "What you can get on the average person's phone can be invaluable."

The scrutiny of social media websites would involve asking for a person's passwords and list of sites visited.

"We want to say for instance, 'What sites do you visit? And give us your passwords,' so that we can see what they do on the internet," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said at a congressional hearing in February. "If they don't want to give us that information then they don't come."

As many as 50 civil liberties groups and other organizations have denounced the policy, calling it "a direct assault on fundamental rights." The approach varies from that of former President Barack Obama which took the attitude that stricter measures would simply cause those with ill intentions to change their methods, the newspaper said.

The State Department is already employing tighter controls, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has directed officials in embassies and consulates to identify "applicant populations" that warrant greater review, Reuters reported.

The new measures could also include an "ideological test" to determine an applicant's views on women and their beliefs on "so-called honor killings," according to the article, with the purpose of weeding out people who might act on their thoughts.

Civil libertarians are at odds with that proposal as well.

"Our views and beliefs and opinions are protected. Those same principles should drive our decisions about whether people would be permitted to visit the United States," said Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security project.

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Details of the "extreme vetting" that President Donald Trump promised as a candidate on immigration are beginning to emerge which could include asking for cellphones, social media passwords, financial records and answering questions about ideology ...
trump, extreme vetting, terrorism
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2017-08-04
Tuesday, 04 Apr 2017 10:08 AM
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