IRAP obtained a USCIS manual through a public records request and shared it with ProPublica. The manual advises USCIS personnel to use free online translation tools and provides a walkthrough for using Google Translate. Scanning social media posts for content that would disqualify entry into the US follows from a . The impact of social media scrutiny was made clear recently when Ismail Ajjawi, a resident of Lebanon admitted to Harvard's class of 2023, into America by US Customs and Border Protection because of anti-US posts apparently made by friends.
After ten days of pressure from student petitioners and advocacy groups, CBP determined Ajjawi met its requirements for US entry after all. To demonstrate the inaccuracy of Google Translate, ProPublica asked Mustafa Menai, who teaches Urdu at the University of Pennsylvania, to translate a Twitter post written in Urdu. By Menai's estimation, an accurate English translation would be, "I have been spanked a lot and have also gathered a lot of love (from my parents)."
Boffins bash Google Translate for sexismGoogle Translate's rendering of the post is, "The beating is too big and the love is too windy."
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.In response to a request from The Register for comment, USCIS spokesperson Dan Hetlage in an email said, “US Citizenship and Immigration Services understands the limitations of online translation tools. USCIS follows up with human translators as needed.”
The immigration agency defended its use of machine translation to ProPublica as "a common sense measure to strengthen our vetting procedures," and has said previously that resettlement decisions are not made on social media information alone.Doug Rand, who worked in the Obama White House as assistant director for entrepreneurship and co-founded immigration assistance biz Boundless Immigration, in a phone interview with The Register, said, "USCIS is basically saying this is incredibly important to protect the homeland and we're going to invest absolutely nothing in the right tools and expertise to do so. Both statements can't be true." ® Sponsored: How to get more from MicroStrategy by optimising your data stack