Trump’s new vetting process extends to Australia

Hannah Edensor

Fancy handing over your phones and passwords upon entering the US? Yeah, neither do we.

But it could be a reality in Trump’s America, with reports from The New York Post suggesting foreigners might be forced to hand over contacts on their mobile phones and social media passwords, and even answer questions about their ideology, as part of the ‘extreme vetting’ process.

Apparently, administration officials reviewing these policies were keen on getting visa applicants to undergo (even more) security reviews, requiring embassies to conduct lengthier interviews, per the Wall Street Journal.

In this interviews, security officials are also expected to execute a vetting program that allows for a “rigorous evaluation” of applicants to determine if they support terrorism, per reports.

And it stretches to include travellers coming from Australia, as well as Britain, Germany and France, into the US.

Gene Hamilton, senior counsellor to ​Department of ​Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly​, told The New York Post​, “If there is any doubt about a person’s intentions coming to the United States, they should have to overcome​ — ​really and truly prove to our satisfaction​ — ​that they are coming for legitimate reasons.”

A senior Homeland Security official told the newspaper that the aim is to “figure out who you are communicating with. What you can get on the average person’s phone can be invaluable.”

The concerning “ideology test” is also proving controversial, given it was something used to vet Communist Party members and anarchists during the Cold War.

The official said questions under consideration would include whether applicants believe in honor killings, their views on the treatment of women and whom they see as legitimate targets in military attacks.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s new travel ban blocking travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, was halted by a federal judge in Hawaii, however the review portion of the order was allowed to continue.

It comes as stringent carry-on policies were enforced on airline flying from 10 global airports, and nine major airlines, flying into the States.

The new policies ban larger electronics such as tablets and laptops to be brought onto the aircraft, not only causing headaches for travellers – especially business – who require these items when they travel, but for insurance claims, which have typically not covered damages or theft to electronics stowed in checked-in baggage.