U.S. may begin reviewing social media posts as part of immigrant security screening

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is reviewing procedures for vetting would-be immigrants, with an eye toward examining applicants' online presence, to close security gaps in the U.S.

See Full Article

visa system, the White House said Monday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Homeland Security and State departments have been asked to review the process for screening people who apply for visas and to return with specific recommendations.

The Homeland Security Department said it is specifically reviewing policies on when authorities at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can look at social media posts as part of the vetting process for would-be immigrants applying for certain visas.

"I think the president's top priority here is the national security and safety of the American people," Earnest said. "And that will continue to be the case with ensuring that this K-1 visa program is effectively implemented."

Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani woman who the FBI says carried out an attack with her husband in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people earlier this month, came to the United States in 2014 on a K-1, or fiance, visa.

Earnest did not provide specifics of the security review for visas, but said one consideration going forward is resources.

The government approved more than 9.9 million visa applications during the 2014 budget year.

The department said three pilot programs to specifically incorporate "appropriate" social media reviews into its vetting process were launched in the last year and the department is looking at other ways to use social media posts.

Malik's background check included at least one in-person interview in Pakistan and another after marrying Syed Farook, who was born in Illinois. She also had to provide fingerprints and a variety of background information. Authorities also vetted her using intelligence and law enforcement databases.

The day after the attack, Facebook found a post on a page maintained by Malik pledging her and Farook's allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group. The page was under an alias.

Authorities have said Malik and Farook exchanged messages about jihad and martyrdom online before they were married and while she was living in Pakistan.

The history of Malik's radicalization and her apparent online discussions about jihad have raised concerns about how she was able to pass a background check that the government has described as rigorous.

Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that Farook was radicalized as early as 2010 and Malik as far back as 2012, which would have been years before her visa was processed.

"We want to look at how our immigration process for a visa for a spouse broke down, that they didn't notice the radicalization," Burr said.

Certain DHS officials are currently allowed to look at social media posts as part of law enforcement investigations. The possible policy changes are being considered at USCIS, the DHS agency in charge of managing immigration benefits cases and interviewing green card applicants.

Malik was interviewed by USCIS after marrying Farook.

The FBI has said the couple was not on its radar until after the attacks and the shootout with police hours later that ended in their death.

"I don't think there are any indications that there was public use of social media that was missed, and we are looking into other questions about how they may have communicated to each other that avoided our detection," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, after being briefed by law enforcement late last week.

Allowing visa vetters to review social media postings is no guarantee that a would-be immigrant who has radicalized views will be discovered. Facebook and Twitter users can make their pages private and aliases are routinely employed.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Patrick Brown accused of 'dirty and crooked politics' as Ontario MPP calls for investigation

    Canada News CBC News
    Ontario Conservative MPP Randy Hillier is calling for a "significant" investigation into Patrick Brown's personal finances over allegations the former Tory leader engaged in "dirty and crooked politics" that breached the province's ethics rules. Hillier, who is supporting former MPP Christine Elliott in the PC leadership race, filed a complaint with Ontario's integrity commissioner Tuesday afternoon, citing that he has "reasonable grounds" to believe Brown violated the Members' Integrity Act by…
  • With new elections near, U.S. strains to curb Russia meddling

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Russians are going to try it again. Even U.S. President Donald Trump's intelligence chiefs say so. But with congressional primaries just two weeks away, the U.S. has done little to aggressively combat the kinds of Russian election meddling that was recently unmasked in federal court. Source
  • Mexico investigators broaden search for 3 missing Italians

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Mexican investigators say they are expanding their search for three Italian men who've been missing for nearly three weeks in the western state of Jalisco. A state government statement says the search is being broadened to neighbouring Michoacan and Colima. Source
  • Pennsylvania church to bless couples toting AR-15 rifles

    World News CTV News
    A Pennsylvania-based offshoot of the Unification Church is encouraging couples to bring their AR-15 rifles with them to a commitment ceremony in the Pocono Mountains, a half-mile from an elementary school. World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland said it planned the Feb. Source
  • Pence was ready to talk to North Korea but they cancelled meeting: U.S.

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Vice-President Mike Pence was all set to hold a history-making meeting with North Korean officials during the Winter Olympics in South Korea, but Kim Jong Un's government cancelled at the last minute, the Trump administration said Tuesday. Source
  • Head of Bruce McArthur investigation hints at evidence that led to arrest of alleged serial killer

    Canada News CBC News
    The Toronto police officer at the helm of the investigation into alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur said on Tuesday in a one-on-one interview with CBC's The National that if one of the victims had been reported missing even a week later than he was, McArthur might still be free. Source
  • Teen gets 6 months in prison for smuggling Bengal tiger cub

    World News CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- A California teen has been sentenced to six months in prison for smuggling in a Bengal tiger cub from Mexico. The defence attorney for 18-year-old Luis Valencia told the court Tuesday in San Diego before his sentencing that his client had had a lapse in judgment and wanted the endangered tiger as a pet. Source
  • Oprah, Clooneys and Spielberg pledge $500K each to support student gun reform rally

    World News CBC News
    Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg said on Tuesday they would each donate $500,000 US to the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. in support of gun control following last week's shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead. Source
  • Seen this Mustang? Alberta woman seeks mom's cherished red convertible

    Canada News CTV News
    An Alberta woman is hunting for a red 2006 Ford Mustang that she says was cherished by her mother before she died of cancer. Kirsten Spek of Medicine Hat, Alta., says that her mother Evelyn received the sports car as a gift from her husband when Spek was 16 years old. Source
  • Hike in serious rail, pipeline accidents in 2017 says safety board

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Serious accidents involving both rail and pipeline transport of dangerous substances like crude oil and gas increased in 2017 over the previous year, according to statistics compiled by the Transportation Safety Board. Source