The United States has an ugly history of profiling and hostility to Chinese people at our border. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the “first significant law restricting immigration into the United States.” It effectively prohibited immigration from China, and also required Chinese people living in the U.S. to get certification to re-enter the country if they left. The law was not only racist, but it ushered in a new era of restrictions on immigration based on national origin that continues to this day.
So a Customs and Border Protection proposal to collect social media identifiers from Chinese visa holders raises concerns of racial profiling, and that the policy could be expanded to other visa holders.
Defending Rights & Dissent joined Asian Americans Advancing Justice and over thirty other civil rights and civil liberties groups in opposing the CBP proposal. Read our letter here.
This is yet another attempt to unfairly scrutinize visitors to the U.S. based on race and national origin. Targeting Chinese travelers in such a sweeping manner would not increase our security and would be an ineffective use of CBP resources. While social media collection has been proposed in the name of national security and is touted as “optional,” we have seen in the past that such practices have been used to coerce travelers into giving private information and have led to discrimination at airports and other border points. This type of interrogation and abuse is an already-too-common reality for Muslim Americans at the border.