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Rights groups protest ‘extreme vetting’ of US immigrants

More than 50 civil society groups have launched an online petition urging the IBM technology company to declare that it will not develop technology to help the administration of President Donald Trump carry out a proposal to identify people for entry denial and deportation from the United States.

The coalition of rights groups said on Thursday that the proposals run counter to IBM’s stated goals of preventing the deportation of so-called “Dreamer” immigrants, individuals who were brought illegally into the United States as children.

About 800,000 Dreamers live in the US. The vast majority have arrived from Mexico and other Latin American countries south of the US border.

The petition is tied to a broader advocacy campaign, also begun Thursday, that objects to the Extreme Vetting Initiative by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

The rights groups also sent separate letters to the US Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the ICE, saying the vetting program was “tailor-made for discrimination.”

IBM and several other technology companies and contractors attended an informational session in July hosted by immigration enforcement officials that discussed developing technology for vetting immigrants, said Steven Renderos, organizing director at petitioner the Center for Media Justice.

“While on the one hand they’ve expressed their support for Dreamers, they’re also considering building a platform that would make it easier to deport them,” Renderos said.

Trump has pledged to harden screening procedures for people looking to enter the US, and also called for “extreme vetting” of certain immigrants, saying such steps are necessary to curtail illegal immigration and protect national security.

Christopher Padilla, IBM’s vice president of government affairs, said the meeting IBM attended was only informational and it was “premature to speculate” whether the company would pursue business related to the Extreme Vetting Initiative.

Opponents of Trump’s immigration policies have been pressuring IBM and other technology companies to avoid working on proposals in these areas from the Trump administration.

Since his inauguration, Trump has faced numerous protests and rallies condemning his divisive rhetoric and controversial immigration policy.

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