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US border patrol checking immigrants’ social media accounts, political beliefs

New York: The US authorities are checking people’s social media accounts for their political views before allowing them into the country after the recent travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump on people from seven predominantly Muslim nations, a media report said.

Houston-based lawyer Mana Yegani was quoted as saying that several green card holders, who have the right to live and work in the US, were detained by border agents at American airports hours after Trump’s executive order came into force.

Yegani, who works with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (Alia), said border agents were checking the social media accounts of those detained and were interrogating them about their political beliefs before allowing them into the US, the Independent reported.

“These are people that are coming in legally. They have jobs here and they have vehicles here. Just because Trump signed something at 6pm on Friday, things are coming to a crashing halt. It’s scary.”

“I and my fellow lawyers had worked through the night fielding calls from people with legitimate visa being detained before entering the US or ordered back on flights to the Muslim-majority countries on the list,” said Yegani.

“The ban has affected travellers with passports from seven Muslim-majority countries and also green card holders who are granted authorisation to live and work in the US,” a spokeswoman from Department of Homeland Security said.

The controversial executive ban announced by Trump on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, lead to hundreds of thousands of people protesting at the airports across the US to extending solidarity to those affected as chaos and fear gripped individuals trying to enter the country.

The ban suspends entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocking entry into the country for 90 days for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“In one alleged incident a Sudanese PhD student at Stanford University in California, who has lived in the US for 22 years, was held for five hours in New York and in another a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen was not allowed to board a flight in Ottawa,” the report said.

PTI