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April 06, 2018

Thompson, Vela, Rice: Stop Ineffective and Discriminatory Extreme Vetting Program

(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to urge she halt Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Visa Lifecycle Vetting Initiative (VLVI), formerly referred to as the Extreme Vetting Initiative. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security has taken steps to pursue an extreme vetting contract.  

In the letter, the Members express concern regarding ICE’s intention to “scrape” social media profiles using vague and unproven criteria to monitor individual visa applicants and holders both in the United States and abroad. The Members believe this will lead to profiling and give ICE boundless latitude to deport or deny immigration benefits without due process.  According to industry experts, the methods that ICE intends to use in this program are unreliable and untested. Recently, more than 50 leading technology experts and more than 50 civil rights, civil liberties, and government accountability organizations have expressed opposition to this program. 

The Members released the following statement with the letter:

“The Trump Administration’s extreme vetting initiative must be stopped.  Not only will it be ineffective and inaccurate, but will certainly be discriminatory and unjustly target certain communities. ICE’s intention to build a program with unknown limits to search social media platforms demonstrates a disregard for privacy, due process, and the rights to free speech and free association. This initiative will undoubtedly chill free speech online. We urge Secretary Nielsen to realize the Constitutional implications of this program and immediately halt any further implementation.”

Link to Letter

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978