As if the current political climate wasn’t stressful enough for the immigrants living in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has once again made things more difficult for immigrants. In an attempt to be more “transparent” they released a new regulation saying that social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results will now be part of people’s Alien File. Meaning that, while they have been monitoring immigrant’s social media all along, they are just now making it known that what they publish and who they follow in social media can be used against them.
Every single immigrant in the country is subject to this new regulation. This means naturalized citizens, green card holders, people in all kinds of visas, refugees and anyone going through the U.S. in any way. This will have an impact on everyone, including Drew students, some of whom already cannot go home due to the travel ban.
This fad of monitoring foreigner’s social media is done in hopes that the Department of Homeland Security will be able to prevent an attack in the country. Because all of us discuss our plans to overthrow the government over Instagram, obviously. It has been repeatedly proven that screening people’s social media does not result in preventing terrorist attacks, but a social media profile will tell you a lot about a person’s political and religious alignments. This is a thinly veiled attempt to keep tabs on everyone who was not born in the country, as they are believed to be threats when in reality they are just people.
The Alien File is a big issue starting by its name. The word ‘alien’ only serves to further the anti-immigrant agenda by making them out to be anything but humans. They aren’t even animals. Nope, even that would be too familiar. White people love their pets. But aliens? Now aliens are something that they can definitely get behind keeping out. Just think about that.
It is also a free speech issue. Everyone is concerned about their right to express themselves and their speech, but the Alien File is documenting everything, even people who are here legally. These people have to silence their beliefs, change who they’re friends with and even the celebrities they follow in order to not be perceived as a threat. This is a huge violation of immigrants’ right to free speech as they cannot safely express themselves, even if they are here completely legally. The government is spending resources to keep track of these people rather than put it to more useful programs for the country, or stopping actual threats. School shootings and domestic terrorism are still large issues, but the U.S. is only concerned with outside threats, not paying to internal ones. This needs to change in order for the things to actually be improved in this country and real threats to public safety prevented.
Graphic by David Giacomini