HIP submits comment on proposed expansion of social media surveillance of immigrant applicants

On November 4th, the Policy Team of the Harvard Law School Immigration Project (HIP), in partnership with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC), submitted a public comment opposing DHS’ proposal to ask for social media handles and identifiers in a range of immigration-related forms, including applications for naturalization (Form N-400), lawful permanent resident status through adjustment of status (Form I-485), advance permission to enter as a nonimmigrant (I-192), and asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Torture Convention (Form I-589).

In their comment, HIP and HIRC emphasize that the adoption of such a rule would infringe upon the freedom of association protected under the First Amendment and further authorize profiling of vulnerable groups through flimsy, discretionary evidence. It notes that, in Massachusetts, DHS is already in the business of using discretionary evidence—like pictures posted on Facebook—to deny Black and Latinx youth the immigration relief they merit or keep them in jail based on false gang allegations.

The comment also notes that the proposed rule does not include any safeguards to minimize the potential for algorithmic bias. It thus urges DHS to reconsider the expansion of the scope of social media surveillance of noncitizens by withdrawing its current proposal. You can read the full comment here.

The comment was written and researched by the HIP Policy Team (Stephanie Gullo ’22, Ali Hassan ’22, Michael Hur ‘20, Haley Kulakowski ‘22, Sherin Nassar ‘22, Austin Nielsen-Reagan ’22, and Krista Oehlke ’20).