LOS ANGELES - On Tuesday, February 21, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) set forward a proposal to collect private social media information from Chinese visitors entering the U.S. on tourist and business visas. In response, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, issues the following statement:
“Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) condemns CBP’s proposal and believes it is yet another attempt by the new Trump administration to unfairly scrutinize visitors to the U.S. based on their 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. The proposal also lacks any standards or guidelines for evaluating social media posts, and provides no protections to ensure travelers are not unjustly detained or denied entry based on a misunderstanding of the content of posts. This would lead to a chilling of online freedom of expression.
While this 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 points of entry to the U.S. This type of interrogation and abuse is an already-too-common reality for Muslim Americans at the border.
CBP’s adoption of such a policy singling out visitors from China will only fan the flames of anti-China and anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S., which is already on the rise due to President Trump’s rhetoric throughout his campaign and since taking office. The bottom line is that racial profiling has never been and will never be an effective national security tool.
In the month since the inauguration, we have seen that mass protest and resistance has been a highly effective way to push back on the current Administration’s efforts to vilify and target communities of Color and immigrant communities. It is time to channel our voices and our power once again. We are calling on organizations and individuals to send in public comments to CBP pushing back against this discriminatory proposal. The proposal is open to public comment until April 24th, and can be submitted here.