Internet activity of all visa applicants, visa holders and green card holders is now tracked. But these are not the only types of surveillance this administration is engaged in.

On 18 October, DHS implemented a new rule to track the internet activity of all visa applicants, visa holders and legal permanent residents. The rule would also apply to naturalized US citizens.

The new rule would track and store social media account information and other highly sensitive data as part of individuals’ immigration files. The policy would allow DHS to collect and track immigrants’ social media accounts handles as well as aliases, and search results from both public search engines as well as commercial databases. This kind of mass surveillance overwhelmingly impacts the dignity and fairness extended to American immigrants, more so than other Americans.

This rule is in clear violation of the constitution, specifically running afoul of the first amendment, negatively impacting free speech and free association rights. This means that immigrants are forced to have second thoughts before freely posting political views to social media, especially if they are in opposition to government policies. 

This rule also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the fifth amendment as it targets naturalized citizens specifically, not the native-born or those with a US citizen parent.  Naturalized citizens are to be afforded all the rights and privileges of citizenship, aside from becoming US president. 

This covert surveillance, now culminating in overt spying on immigrants, is designed as a tactic to control and fracture dissent. It is meant to keep immigrants’ political activity in check. The message this new rule sends to American immigrants, and specifically naturalized citizens, is that they are not entitled to the full exercise of their first amendment rights as native-born citizens are. The government will be watching immigrants closely and if it determines that they have crossed the line in any way, it will find some way of coming after them.