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Game-changer up ahead for immigration and naturalization process

New Jersey is home to many immigrants. Some live here with permanent residency statuses, some with temporary visas and others who were undocumented when they entered the country. The latest news suggests there are major changes in the works for the immigration and naturalization process that have immigrant advocates on edge. They say the proposed changes may place the privacy of many people at risk.

As part of the new vetting process set to take place in the United States come mid-October, all immigrants would have to give the U.S. government access to their social network accounts by providing handles, passwords and all profile information. The terminology within the prospective new vetting plans is far too vague, say many advocates who are concerned about the U.S. government trampling people's privacy rights by basically requiring any and all personal information available in digital form. It seems the United States is not the only country taking this direction as it was also recently reported that a man at an airport in the United Kingdom refused to hand over his passwords to security and was ultimately convicted on charges of terrorism because of it.

The visa process is already complex and often lengthy, with some immigrants waiting years for approval. Once these new regulations take effect, immigrants might experience further delays since it would be quite time-consuming for millions of people to provide the government with Twitter, Facebook and Google information as well as any other online social account. Many are wondering how the government would use that information.

Since mid-October is some time away yet, there is a chance that wording in the proposed new vetting plans could be fine-tuned to be more specific, leaving less room for broad override of personal privacy. Then again, the plan may go through "as is," which would affect not only naturalized citizens and immigrants living in New Jersey under permanent residency but also those in other countries planning to apply for entrance into the United States. Any immigrant who believes his or her rights have been violated may discuss the issue with an attorney well-versed in U.S. immigration law.

Source: nymag.com, "If You're an Immigrant, Homeland Security Wants Your Twitter", Paris Martineau, Sept. 26, 2017

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