It has been more than a year since President Donald Trump called for an agency where U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies can share classified information with other parts of the government involved in immigration – agencies including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The result is The National Vetting Center. It’s currently up and running in suburban Virginia under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, says Investigative reporter Melissa Del Bosque. She wrote about the agency in her latest piece for ProPublica. She says former CIA analysts aren’t thrilled with who’s in charge of the center.
“In the intelligence community,” she says. “They are hesitant to have programs run through DHS because it’s largely seen as an agency that’s run by political appointees that are appointed by the president. Analysts would prefer the process not be politicized.”
Though she says there are good reasons to want a more streamlined and informed vetting process, activists are concerned with the lack of transparency, possible abuse and risk bias by those in charge of interpreting the information.
“The issue that a lot of civil liberties and privacy experts and lawyers are bringing up,” Del Bosque says, “is that since all this is classified, we are not privy to what’s being shared with the immigration agents , how its being shared… Are they going to cherry-pick this information to use it for political outcomes?”