As President Trump prepares a new executive order on vetting refugees and immigrants, one idea keeps cropping up: checking the social media accounts of those coming to the U.S.
In fact, such a program was begun under the Obama administration more than a year ago on a limited basis and is likely to be expanded. But social media vetting is a heavy lift, and it's too early to tell how effective it will be.
Leon Rodriguez, who stepped down last month as head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the checks began around the end of 2015, coinciding with the rise of Syrian refugee admissions.
Until that point, only 2,000 or so Syrian refugees had been admitted to the U.S. during four years of war there. The number of Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. jumped to more than 12,000 last year.
"Initially, we were focused on Syrian males who had some sort of flag in their application," said Rodriguez. Over the course of last year, his agency kept "expanding the universe of people whose social media we examined, to include larger numbers of Syrian applicants and Iraqi applicants."
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