The following comment has been revised and expanded as of November 26 at 12:22 pm:

A group of 54 "Data Mining" experts from leading universities in every part of the United States sent a letter on November 16 to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke strongly protesting a plan to make a vast expansion in monitoring immigrants' social media posts for a vaguely defined purpose that could lead to targeting and deportation of immigrants for merely expressing legitimate political views.

It could also lead to monitoring political comments by American citizens, in a move that could bring America closer to making George Orwell's totalitarian slogan "Big Brother is Watching You" in his famous novel 1984 a reality. For a link to and comment on this letter, see (November 25):

Extreme digital vetting of visitors to the US moves forward under a new name

The letter states in part:

"According to its Statement of Objectives, the Extreme Vetting Initiative seeks to make 'determinations via automation' about whether an individual will become a 'positively contributing member of society' and will 'contribute to the national interests'. As far as we are aware, neither the federal government nor anyone else has defined, much less attempted to qualify, these characteristics. Algorithms designed to predict these undefined qualities could be used to arbitrarily flag groups of immigrants under a veneer of objectivity...

For example, developers could stipulate that a Facebook post criticizing U.S. foreign policy would identify a visa applicant as a threat to national interests."

This last example is by no means merely hypothetical. USCIS form I-485, which is meant to be used by immigrants who are in the United States and are applying to "adjust their status" to become permanent residents, are now required to answer "yes " or "no" "security" question number 47, which reads as follows (in the latest revised 6/26/17 version of this form:

"Are you engaged in or, upon your entry into the United States, do you intend to engage in any activity that could have potentially serious policy consequences for the United States?"

Admittedly some immigrants might wish to comment on Facebook about a certain current US president who, in the opinion of many experts, could have a problem giving a truthful "no" answer to the above questions. See the comment by Richard North Patterson, a distinguished retired attorney and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, in the Boston Globe, October 2 entitled:

The dangerous path of Trump's xenophobia

But for any immigrant who dares to post such a comment, that might turn out to be the end of any hope of being approved for a visa or a green card.

As also points out in its comment on the academic experts' letter:

"Social media surveillance would be difficult to carry out without collecting collateral data on thousands of American citizens in the process, said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel to the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security Program."

The above again illustrates the biggest danger of all to American democracy and society in Trump's agenda of targeting, excluding and deporting immigrants who come from non-white parts of the world or who hold religious or political views which he disfavors. Inevitably American citizens as well will be included in Trump's immigration dragnet. This could lead to the same kind of totalitarian dictatorship that Orwell so graphically predicted in his novel 70 years ago.

In another development, in his latest example of shameless demagoguery, Trump has attempted to exploit the deaths of at least 235 Egyptians in a terror attack in a mosque in that country for the purpose of promoting his Mexican Border Wall of hatred and humiliation against mainly Latin American immigrants; as well as his Muslim ban executive order, which federal court after federal court has determined to be motivated by religious animosity and discrimination rather than genuine national security considerations.

So far, little or no evidence has been produced showing that Trump's Border Wall would be of the slightest value in preventing terrorists from entering the United States. The ostensible purpose of the Wall is directed against Latin American immigrants, few if any of whom have been linked to radical Islamist groups.

And, as The Hill points out in its story below about Trump's reaction to the mosque terror attack, Egypt is not among the countries that are (or ever have been) included in Trump's Muslim ban list. Therefore, using a terror attack in Egypt as a pretext for pushing the Muslim ban does not make any logical sense either.

At least, Trump (so far) has not tried to exploit this attack as an excuse to justify his support of the "merit-based" RAISE Act, which would eliminate or drastically cut legal immigration from Asia and Latin America, or for eliminating the Diversity visa, which has been especially beneficial for immigrants from Africa and Asia.

These proposals, which Trump pushed for after the October 31 terror attack in New York, do, to be sure, have a good deal of "merit" - for members of the alt-right white nationalist, neo-nazi and KKK movements that Trump was so reluctant to condemn after Charlottesville.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law