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Trump administration requiring visa applicants to reveal social media accounts raises deportation worries

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The State Department Friday put new regulations in place for visa applicants, requiring disclosure of social media accounts, a move that critics worry could lead to an easier path for deportations.

Applicants for visas will be required to provide a list of their social media account usernames, email addresses, and phone numbers upon applying. These restrictions, which AP reported will affect up to 15 million people a year, were previously only used for applicants who were flagged by the department.

In an interview with Common Dreams, Dan Feidt, a reporter with Unicorn Riot and privacy advocate, speculated that the new rules could be used to expedite deportation proceedings.

“They can falsely attribute some social media activity to you and claim you lied about it,” said Feidt.

Feidt added that he believes the new rules could provide a bigger “attack surface” for the government to target applicants with—giving more of a chance that the government could find inconsistencies to then use as the justification for deportation.

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“It’s a much larger set of info they can claim you potentially lied about and get at you with,” said Feidt. “Before, you had to provide less info to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, so there was less to get attacked about.”

Saagar Enjeti of The Hill first reported the new policy’s implementation Friday, and the State Department subsequently confirmed the news to multiple other news organizations. The new regulations are part of “extreme vetting” policies announced in an executive order by President Donald Trump in March 2017. The new regulations around social media accounts were first announced in March 2018.

Quoting an unnamed State Department official, Enjeti said that the administration claims it will use social media vetting to go after threats to the U.S.

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“As we’ve seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity.” the official said. “This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil.”

The news follows reports that the administration is holding migrants in overcrowded facilities that are so cramped people can hardly move or breathe.

By Eoin Higgins


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‘White Identity Politics’ and white backlash: How we wound up with a racist in the White House

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Today's Republican Party is the largest, most powerful and most dangerous white racist organization in the United States -- if not the world. Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is its leader. These are plain if not understated facts. No embellishment is needed. The examples are many.  Over the last few days Donald Trump has repeatedly dug into his bucket of racist political scatology, saying on Twitter and elsewhere that four nonwhite members of Congress ("Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen," as he mockingly put it) should leave America and go back to their own "crime infested" and "totally broken" countries.

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Trump’s packed Supreme Court backs ‘forced arbitration’ that bars workers from taking abusive bosses to court

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Corporations are rapidly rendering sexual harassment, race and gender discrimination, life-threatening workplaces and wage theft immune to employee legal action.

They achieve this by forcing the vast majority of non-union private-sector workers to sign away their rights to go to court or use class or collective arbitration. Instead many millions of workers are being forced to forgo these efficient legal ways to resolve issues and to file individual arbitration claims.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy says that by 2024 more than 80% of non-union private-sector workers will find courthouse doors chained shut by forced arbitration clauses that ban lawsuits and collective actions. (EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to press the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.)

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Corporations can legally put carcinogens in our food without warning labels — here’s why

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A recent study by the Environmental Working Group revealed something horrifying: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup, was present in 17 of the 21 oat-based cereal and snack products at levels considered unsafe for children. That includes six different brands of Cheerios, one of the most popular American cereals.

I've written before about the limits of corporate free speech when it comes to public safety, but on that occasion I discussed this insofar as it involved corporate-sponsored climate change denialism. Yet here we have something more tangible, more direct: The safe glyphosate limit for children is 160 parts per billion (ppb), yet Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch has 833 parts per billion and regular Cheerios has 729 ppb. While the potential risks of glyphosate are fiercely debated, many scientists believe that it is linked to cancer.

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