Social media monitoring sees immigrants deported over terror threats

© Tan Shung Sin
Authorities are turning to social media accounts of immigrants to determine visa eligibility. An Egyptian flight school student had his visa revoked after writing a Facebook comment about killing Donald Trump.

Emad El-Sayed posted a Facebook comment about Donald Trump, saying he “wouldn’t mind serving a life sentence for killing this guy.”

El-Sayed was studying at the Universal Air Academy in Los Angeles. The flight school saw the post and reported it to the FBI.

Two days after posting the comment, El-Sayed was greeted by Secret Service agents who questioned him at the flight school. His home was also searched. According to flight school owner Alex Khatib, the Secret Service agents said they had revoked El-Sayed’s M-1 visa and told Khatib to terminate the I-20 document. The I-20 is filled out by a school to support a student visa. Without it, El-Sayed’s visa was void.

El-Sayed was then arrested for violating the visa.  He has been detained since, according to The New York Daily News. On Friday, he appeared in immigration court where he agreed to leave the US.

Immigration officials regularly use social media to look for evidence of fraud or illegal activity and continue to monitor immigrants after their visas are granted. The US has revoked 122,000 visas after they were issued since 2001. Of those, 9,500 were because of a perceived threat of terrorism.

In 2012, two Irish tourists were denied entry to the US after Leigh Van Bryan tweeted, “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America."

Destroy is Irish slang for partying. Van Bryan and his friend Emily Banting were sent home upon arrival in Los Angeles, after being questioned for five hours and locked up overnight.