Global Independent Analytics

Feds can't say whereabouts of those whose visas were revoked over terror threat

Apparently, U.S. government does not need to track thousands of would-be terrorists

FoxNews reports: the U.S. government is unsure of the location of those foreigners whose visas were repealed over potential terror threat, affirms State Department officials.

This acknowledgement became public after the House has overseen the hearing intended to examine immigrants pursuing recent terror attacks and drew sharp criticism from committee members.

Michelle Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, claimed that since 2001 more than 122,000 visas have been revoked, 9,500 of them were cancelled basing on terrorism threat suspicion. When asked about the whereabouts of those individuals who have been refused visas for potential terrorist connection, she admitted that this information is unknown to her.

The situation unraveled in an unexpected way: members of the committee had no idea that such information was unavailable until they began pushing Obama’s administration officials to curtail latent threat that might be posed by would-be extremists. Now under consideration is how well the security officials are investigating the background of visa applicants. The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that thorough screenings including reviews of applicants’ social media postings are not being performed profusely. Moreover, he did not state how or when such screenings would occur.

Meanwhile legislators are attempting to determine which department would be in charge of preventing extremists from exploiting legal paths to enter the U.S. In passing, Tashfeen Malik, one of the infamous San-Bernardino shooters, entered the U.S. on a K-1 fiancée visa which has been granted to her regardless the fact that by that time she has already been marked as “radicalized” by F.B.I. Before getting the visa in July 2014, she has successfully passed several background checks and in-person interviews. F.B.I. believes that she Malik and her husband have been discussing jihad and martyrdom online long before their marriage.

FoxNews provides a quote of Representative Stephen Lynch, one of those lawmakers who have peen pressing security officials to perform comprehensive social media evaluation of visa applicants: "If half the employers are doing it in the United States of America, if colleges are doing it for students, why wouldn't Homeland Security do it We don't even look at their public stuff, that's what kills me."

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security did launch three programs designed to review social media postings as a part of visa vetting programs, but the programs were implemented only few months ago. Officials claim that so far more ambiguity than clarity was revealed. Moreover, foreign alphabets commonly used by immigrants, only impede the process. Although there is still a way for improvement, there also is a potential that information of significant value would be revealed during such screenings.

“During his opening remarks Chaffetz, said: "It is unclear how someone who so openly discussed her hatred of our country and way of life could easily pass three background checks. We need to understand how the breakdown happened with Malik and what we are doing to make sure it doesn't happen again," adds FoxNews.

Lawmakers have also inquired for changes in Visa Waiver Program which grants citizens from 38 countries get U.S. visa without having to pass through in-person interview. Many of legislators suppose that the program might be mis-exploited by carriers of western passports.

FoxNews assumes: “Earlier this month the House voted overwhelmingly to tighten controls on that program and require visas for anyone who has been to Iraq or Syria in the last five years. Security changes to the program were also included in the Senate version of a massive spending bill expected to be approved later this week.”

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

The Feds revoked visas of suspects but their whereabouts are not known. This is a scandal and this negligence can endanger the lives of more Californians and of Americans more generally. If the US cannot keep tab on suspects whose visas were revoked, why does Obama want to let in 10,000 more migrants from Syria, of whom a significant percentage may be radicalized? And if some of them are radicalized and are terrorists, and they can out terrorist attacks on US soil, what will Obama be able to do then? All we will hear will be a “oops, sorry, I did not know” but it will be too late for those who were already harmed.

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