US customs 'checking travellers' Facebook accounts' for political views

US customs 'checking travellers' Facebook accounts' for political views
Social media accounts of refugees and green card holders from seven Muslim-majority countries are being checked for political views across US airports, despite travelers' lawful right to enter.
2 min read
29 January, 2017
Border agents at American airports have detained several green card holders [Anadolu]
US border officers are checking traveller's Facebook accounts for their political beliefs before allowing them into the country, an immigration lawyer said on Saturday.

Border agents at US airports have detained several green card holders - who have the right to live and work in the US - to check their social media accounts and interrogate them about their political views.

Reports have also emerged of the detained being questioned on their opinions of US President Donald Trump.

Immigration lawyer Mana Yegani posted the update on Twitter, saying US border agents were "checking Facebook" and "political views" of green card holders to decide on allowing them back into the US.

 "These are people that are coming in legally. They have jobs here and they have vehicles here," the Houston-based lawyer said, according to The Independent.

"Just because Trump signed something at 6pm yesterday, things are coming to a crashing halt. It's scary."

Yegani said she and fellow immigration lawyers worked through the night, receiving calls from people with legal right to enter the US but had been detained or ordered back on flights to one of the even Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association told The Independent they received several reports that people's social media accounts were being targeted.

Although this method has been used by the border force for several years now, there are doubts whether it is constitutional. 

US President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order on Holocaust memorial day, suspending the arrival of refugees for at least 120 days and bars visas for travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries for the next three months.

Large protests have since been held at major airports across the country.

The ban has been condemned by the UN's refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration.

"The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the US resettlement program is one of the most important in the world," the two Geneva-based agencies said in a joint statement.

"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."