Multiple US agencies cooperate to intensively vet immigrants


The US Department of Homeland Security awarded a $113 million contract to General Dynamics to carry out the Visa Lifecycle Vetting Initiative (VLVI), a renamed version of the Extreme Vetting Initiative and part of a larger effort called the National Vetting Enterprise. In May 2018, public outrage led the DHS to back away from a machine learning system that would monitor immigrants continuously; however, the reason it gave was that the technology to automate vetting did not yet exist. These programs represent a shift in immigration enforcement that includes greater cooperation between immigrant and national security agencies and that has been built up through a series of Executive Orders beginning in January 2017. Three agencies collaborate: the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which grants visas and citizenship; Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which secures the border; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which investigates and enforces deportations. USCIS will begin scraping social media data and search results for all immigrants entering the US; the State Department has even required some visa applicants to turn over account credentials so officials can access their private communications. All this data is kept for 100 years for all immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalised citizens. Some opposition is coming from the US Congress, but it has yet to effectively shut any of it down.

Writer: Chinmayi Sharma

Publication: Lawfare

Publication date: 2019-01-28

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