Be careful when using online/social media!

For years, DHS agencies including USCIS and ICE have investigated non-citizens through social media. USCIS and ICE will present documents that show clients, for example, using controlled substances, advocating support for terrorist-designated organizations and other problematic organizations, and having romantic relationships with people other than the US citizens petitioning for green card.

This week DHS announced that it will create fake social media accounts to further its long-standing practice of investigating non-citizens through social media. This announcement caused Facebook to reiterate its policy of prohibiting fake accounts and caused uproar among immigrant advocates, privacy advocates and free-speech advocates alike.

This policy, however, should not surprise anyone. Non-citizens have fewer privacy, free-speech and other rights in this country than do US citizens (generally speaking except for systemic issues of racism, sexism and other discrimination that may trump immigration status). Non-citizens need to strive for very clean, if not non-existent, social media presences. Regardless of whether Facebook prevails in disallowing DHS from setting up fake accounts, non-citizens in the US need to make sure that their social media records do not cause them harm vis-a-vis their immigration status.