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The Department Of Homeland Security has been documented to actively monitor the social media accounts of people applying for various visas. Anyone offering legal immigration advice in Los Angeles will advise you not to post any personal information about your citizenship status on websites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This is because any of this information can be used against you during your visa or naturalization application process.
According to the 2017 Federal Register, the Department Of Homeland Security has revealed how it uses social media profiles to collect and store information found on social media profiles of those applying for temporary or permanent citizenship status.
This 2017 Federal Register Policy grants the Department Of Homeland Security (DHS, for short) access to social media handles and aliases to search for and collect information. This information is stored on the A-File, or immigrant’s official Alien File.
It’s Not Just The DHS Anymore
According to a well-known Los Angeles immigration attorney, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) now has access to social media accounts at borders and other ports of entry in the United States. Many CBP agents are using this power to seize electronic devices of U.S. citizens.
While they can’t legally deny any U.S. citizen entry to the country, they can seize their electronic device if they don’t grant the CBP access to its use. Hopeful border crossers who are not legal U.S. citizens can be denied entry into the country if they refuse to give CBP access to their electronic devices.
How Should Immigrants Protect Themselves On Social Media?
Anyone practicing deportation defense in Los Angeles will give the simple advice of not opening social media accounts in the first place. This is the easiest way to avoid any sort of information collection from DHS or CBP altogether. However, for many, this isn’t a good option. They want to enjoy the pleasures that come along with social media, and they may even use social media to advance their business. If you fall into this category, law offices of immigration in Los Angeles have compiled some safe practices you should implement while posting on all of your social media accounts.
Don’t post anything about having ever committed a crime. This may seem simple, but it’s surprising how many immigrants post photos of themselves with federally controlled substances like marijuana. While it’s legal in some states, it’s not legal at the federal level, you don’t want to give DHS or CBP any evidence to detain you on suspicion.
It’s the sad truth that immigrants who are not U.S. citizens face larger consequences for criminal activity than regular citizens. You can be subjected to prolonged detention if you’re suspected of criminal activity. This is regardless of whether or not you’ve been found guilty of the crime in a court of law. If you’ve been detained due to suspicion, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a Los Angeles lawyer for getting a green card with a criminal record.
While we all like to post about the groups and organizations we love, it’s important that you be careful who you post about. You don’t want to imply that you have any sort of affiliation with terrorist organizations or a criminal gang. If you post any information that gives some suspicion about your affiliation, your visa can be denied. This is because you’ll be considered a threat to national security and a danger to the community around you. It’s a good rule of thumb to never even joke about any sort of affiliation with a terrorist group or gang.
Another thing that you want to avoid posting about is your entry into the United States. You don’t want this to be any bit problematic in the future when you’re trying to obtain a visa or citizenship. As a general rule of thumb, simply avoid posting about your entry into the United States so that you don’t find yourself in trouble later on.
In addition, be mindful of statuses when you’re granted a green card through marriage. It’s common knowledge that some people simply marry Americans to gain access to a U.S. green card. These cases are evaluated closely by DHS officials. It’s never a good idea to have a social media account stating that you’re dating somebody else or that you’re single.
Figuring Out What Information The Government Has Collected
While you may have purged your social media accounts to avoid any sort of confusion with legality issues, DHS can still access deleted posts. If you believe that there was bad information on your social media profiles that could render you unlikely to get granted a visa, you can always figure out what is in your file.
This is done by requesting your A-File. You can be granted access to this file through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). This will reveal the information that government agencies have collected on you.
How To Prepare Yourself For Borders and Ports Of Entry?
Any Los Angeles crime and immigration lawyer will reveal that complying with the requests of border agents is usually in your best interests when trying to gain entry into the country. When you arrive at a border or port of entry, you should allow the border agent full access to your electronic devices if they ask.
A good trick proposed by criminal immigration attorney in LA is to delete any private information from your mobile devices prior to crossing the border or entering a U.S. port. You can even go as far as putting your phone on airplane mode when you arrive at the port or border for entry.
Any Los Angeles lawyer for a green card with a criminal past will advise you to be careful in how you handle giving over your mobile device. While you may not want to deny a border agent access to your mobile device, you don’t have to give them your password. Rather, you can simply ask to enter the password or code yourself. You may even want to ship your mobile device to the country and use a separate device when crossing the border.