The Trump administration is creating a center that will give immigration agents access to information from U.S. intelligence agencies. Migrants and others denied entry will be unable to see the evidence against them because it is classified.
By Melissa del Bosque
Pushing further toward its goal of “extreme vetting,” the Trump administration is creating a new center in suburban Virginia that will allow immigration agents to access, for the first time, the sprawling array of information scooped up by America’s intelligence agencies, from phone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency to material gathered by the CIA’s spies overseas to tips from informants in Central America.
This classified, potentially derogatory, information will eventually be used to screen everyone seeking to enter the United States, including foreign vacationers seeking travel visas, people applying for permanent residency or immigrants requesting asylum at the Mexican border.
Legal experts worry that immigration agents could potentially use this secret data to flag entire categories of people that fit “suspect” profiles and potentially bar them from entering the U.S., or prompt them to be tracked while they’re here. It could also be nearly impossible for those denied entry to challenge faulty information if wrongly accused, they say, since most of it is classified.
In an interview, the director of the new National Vetting Center, which is being overseen by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was vague about the types of classified information that may be shared with immigration agencies but said the vetting center’s privacy and legal experts will make sure it conforms with the law.