From [TheIntercept] BACK WHEN HE was a presidential candidate, in August 2016, Donald Trump promised his followers and the world that he would screen would-be immigrants using “extreme vetting,” a policy that has remained as ambiguous as it is threatening (his haphazard and arbitrary “Muslim ban” was the apparent result of that pledge). Today, Homeland Security documents show the American private sector is eager to help build an advanced computer system to make Trump’s “extreme vetting” a reality.
On July 18 and 19, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division hosted an “industry day” for technology companies interested in building a new tool for the Homeland Security apparatus. The event was only supposed to take one day at the Crystal City Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, but was expanded to two after what ICE called an “overwhelming response” from interested companies. According to an ICE document titled “Extreme Vetting Initiative” provided to potential contractors, the agency’s current ability to evaluate an immigrant’s potential for criminality or terrorism is inadequate, “fragmented across mission areas and are both time-consuming and manually labor-intensive due to complexities in the current U.S immigration system.” ICE is simply digging around so much, at such a fever pitch under Trump, that they’ve created a hopeless backlog.
So it’s time for something new and better, says ICE: a system that will serve as an “overarching vetting” machine “that automates, centralizes, and streamlines the current manual vetting process while simultaneously making determinations via automation if the data retrieved is actionable” in order to “implement the President’s various Executive Orders (EOs) that address American immigration and border protection security and interests.” In other words, data-mining software that helps ICE agents find human targets faster.
ICE’s hope is that this privately developed software will help go far beyond matters of legality to matters of the heart. The system must “determine and evaluate an applicant’s probability of becoming a positively contributing member of society, as well as their ability to contribute to national interests” and predict “whether an applicant intends to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.” Using software to this end is certainly in line with Trump’s campaign rhetoric — during a rally in Phoenix, he described how “extreme vetting” would make sure the U.S. only accepts “the right people,” using “ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values and love our people.”
Sign-in sheets from the ICE event show a sizable private sector turnout, including representatives from IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton, LexisNexis, SAS, and Deloitte, along with a litany of smaller firms, such as Praescient Analytics, Red Hat, PlanetRisk, and Babel Street (the sign-in sheets can be read below). [MORE]