Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler and Dan Frosh
April 05, 2017
The senior Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Wednesday the “extreme vetting” procedures contemplated by the Trump administration would alienate U.S. allies, deter legitimate travelers and fail to keep out security threats.
“It seems to me we are signaling something that is very un-American to the rest of the world,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) told Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at a hearing of the Senate panel.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Trump administration was considering new vetting rules that would ask visa applicants to provide cell phone contacts and social media passwords as well as answer probing questions about their ideology. A senior Homeland Security official said the changes could apply to close U.S. allies as well as visitors from other countries.
“If they know we’re going to look at their phones and we know we’re going to ask them questions about their ideology, they’re going to get rid of their phones and guess what they’re going to do on ideology? They’re going to lie,” she said.
Mr. Kelly did not respond directly to her criticism or to the Journal story. Rather, he spoke about current procedures at ports of entry and said that visitors’ phones are examined only in rare cases during secondary screenings.
“This is not routine,” he said. “It is done in a very small number of cases. It won’t be done routinely for people who are coming here from anywhere.”
Ms. McCaskill said if the vetting procedures under consideration are implemented, visitors will be less likely to come to the U.S.
“I got to tell you: if my family was traveling to the United Kingdom and they told me that we would have to answer questions about my beliefs to get into the country, we would not go,” she said. “And I have a hard time imagining that those countries would see us as their friends. I think this has a profound impact on our standing in the world, profound impact on the nature of our alliances around the world and a profound impact on our national security.”
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