US border authorities are inspecting travelers’ Facebook accounts for their political views before letting them enter the country, an immigration lawyer said.
Lawyer Mana Yegani, based in Houston, revealed that several green card holders who have the right to stay and work in the country were detained at the US airports.
The move came hours after President Donald Trump signed executive order immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries from the Middle East and Africa. These countries comprising Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Further, the restriction also extends to green card holders who have been granted authorisation to live and work in the United States, according to spokesperson Department of Homeland Security.
In one such incident, a Sudanese PhD student at Stanford University, California and living in the US for 22 years was barred for five hours in New York. Similarly, a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen was stopped from boarding a flight in Ottawa.
According to the lawyer’s organisation American Immigration Lawyers Association (Alia), border agents were also checking social media accounts of those who have been detained and inquiring them about their political beliefs before they are allowed into the country.
The lawyer said, “These are people that are coming in legally. They have jobs here and they have vehicles here.”
According to a spokesperson for the Alia, the tactic of targeting people’s social media accounts had been used by border agents for years in spite of doubts over the move’s constitutional position.
The ban was condemned by the UN refugee agency UNHCR and International Organisation for Migration saying, “The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the US resettlement programme is one of the most important in the world.”
“The longstanding US policy of welcoming refugees has created a win-win situation: it has saved the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world who have in turn enriched and strengthened their new societies,” they added.
This article first appeared on Independent