Today the Identity Project joins more than 20 other government-accountability and civil liberties organizations in a joint letter opposing S. 2192, the “SECURE Act of 2017”, which was introduced in the Senate earlier this month and immediately placed on the Senate calendar for a floor vote at any time.
The name of this bill is Newspeak. It is not about security, but about surveillance and control of immigrants, borders, and international travelers, including U.S. citizens.
The coalition letter to members of Congress that we signed today focuses on Sections 6002-6003 (pp. 488-499) of S. 2192, which would authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State, or Attorney General to exempt their respective Federal departments from the Administrative Procedure Act, the Privacy Act, and the Paperwork Reduction Act with respect to a wide range of border control and surveillance activities.
The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) spells out the details of Constititionally-required “due process” as it applies to administrative decision-making by Federal agencies. Decisions adversely affecting individuals’ rights made without complying with the APA would be highly likely to violate Constitutional norms of due process.
Exemption from the Privacy Act would allow the creation and maintenance, without notice, of secret Federal government databases about U.S. citizens, and the use of secret, unreliable, uncorrected, and/or irrelevant data as the basis for decisions to deny U.S. citizens their rights. These practices would also be likely to be unconstitutional.
Many of the provisons of S. 2192 are copied from S. 1757, an earlier omnibus “border control” bill we criticized when it was introduced in September.
Like its predecessor S. 1757, S. 2192 incorporates a patently unconstitutional “Passport Revocation Act” (Section 1632, pp. 446-448), which would purport to authorize revocation or refusal to issue or renew a U.S. passsport, and the prohibition of departure from or return to the U.S., on the guilt-by-association basis of (1) an extrajudicial administrative designation of an organization as a “foreign terrorist organization”, and (2) an extrajudicial administrative determination by the State Department that a U.S. citizen is “affiliated” with such an organization (without the law defining the meaning of “affiliated”).
S. 2192 also includes provisions from S. 1757 mandating government monitoring of activities and ideas expressed on social media, and the use of this surveillance data for making visa decisions and for “continuous screening” (continuous surveillance and control) of immigrants, foreign residents (including permanent residents), and foreign-citizen visitors to the U.S.