Amidst the general horror that is Trump’s xenophobic and bigoted executive orders*, and in the executive order attacking sanctuary cities, comes Trump’s attack on the privacy of immigrants (h/t Dennis Crouch at Patently-O). The order stipulates:
“Privacy Act. [Federal] Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.”
The Act does not require protection extend to non-permanent residents; Crouch provides the context, noting that “some agencies, however, have been providing aspects of privacy-act protections to non-citizens and permanent residents. The order appears to force agencies to stop that approach and instead expand governmental data collection and dissemination of information related to non-Americans.” In other words, expand the surveillance state as much as possible. I don’t see how this expansion won’t involve the collection of data on citizens, since citizens often interact with those in the U.S. lawfully or otherwise (for example, as students, H1-B workers, or under other programs), and so a threat to the privacy of non-citizens is indirectly a threat to the privacy of everyone in the United States.
This is admittedly not the most egregious part of the order. Although the bar is high, that award probably goes to this clause, which appears at the end of a list of people who are priorities for deportation, extending it to those who “in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.” That’s right: arbitrary sovereignty is now vested in all ICE officers who might, for example, judge that non-white people, or Muslims, “pose a risk to public safety.” You don't have to be charged with something, or even arrested (earlier parts of the order include those assaults on due process). All you have to do is look funny to an ICE agent. I don’t know the underlying statutory law, but I didn’t see anything in the order designed to aid ICE officers in the execution of their judgment. Just wonderful. Not only is Trump turning away Muslims (and pretty much only Muslims, probably from countries culled from some list he heard on Fox News. Trevor Noah shredded Trump’s defense of the order. Trump referred to San Bernadino murders and 9/11. None of the countries where any of those people came from are on Trump’s list), he’s inviting a much expanded ICE to harass them here.
The awfulness of the rest of the order notwithstanding, the privacy part is worth noting, if nothing else because this was the first mention I’ve seen of it. The details of Trump’s edicts are going to be like cockroaches: for every horrible one you see, there’s forty more that you don’t.
* It is hard not to feel physical revulsion at the order banning entry to those from seven predominantly Muslim countries. It's hard to know where to start, but for one, it applies to green card holders, and is being used to indiscriminantly deny entry to those who have already been vetted and lived here for years, only one step from naturalizing as citizens. If this ACLU lawsuit is any indication, it is in flagrant violation of both statutory and constitutional law: Trump continues to confuse himself with a king. Even if it is somehow legal, it shouldn't be, because it denies entry to those who have been granted legal rights to enter. More importantly, it is morally bankrupt: it turns its back on people fleeing Syria, Iraq and other countries for their lives, sometimes because they cooperated with the U.S. Or just because they come from a Muslim country that isn't presently our ally. It all but imposes religious tests on future asylees ("religious minorities" are to be preferred; this clearly means "Christian" in Trump's universe, though it seems to me that Shia or Sunni Muslims could both make that claim, depending on their country of origin). It leaves open the door to ideological tests of green card holders, who have to prove that they will benefit the country in non-specified ways to be allowed an exemption to enter it. It makes the U.S. look horrendous globally (Canada just made a big point of saying it would accept refugees), serves as a big fat recruiting poster for ISIS and any other organization that wants to portray the U.S. as at war with Islam, and even threatens the ability of our technology sector to compete or even maintain the stability of its workforce. And, of course, in typical impetuous and callous Trump fashion, the order arrived out of the blue and caused total chaos as immigration officers had to essentially admit to travelers that they didn't know what the order meant. Mr. Trump, I am already tired of "all the winning." "Winning" must be one of those "alternative facts."