Widespread outrage greeted Department of Homeland Security director Jeh Johnson’s revelation that immigration officials have been secretly barred from looking at the social media posts of prospective immigrants, due to political correctness and fears that such investigations would result in “bad public relations.”
Immigration officials demanded changes to the policy in 2014, but claim they were rebuffed by Johnson. “The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it were disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing,” former acting under-secretary of Homeland Security John Cohen told ABC News on Monday.
Deliberately ignoring social media led to much more than bad public relations in San Bernardino, where Islamist Tashfeen Malik was allowed to immigrate, despite Facebook activity showing violent jihad support. She and her husband Syed Farook went on to murder 14 people at a Christmas party in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
On Tuesday, Fox News reported on congressional Republican efforts to lift this “absurd and dangerous” immigration policy, as House Homeland Security Committee chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) described it.
“This is exactly why the American people increasingly have zero confidence that this administration has any idea on how to keep our country safe,” said Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is also a presidential candidate. “To not look at that as a factor and determining whether someone should be allowed to travel here just defies all explanation.”
House Judiciary chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and John McCain (R-AZ) both got to work on legislation that would require DHS to include social media accounts as part of the background check for visas, including the “fiancee visa” used by Malik. Senator McCain introduced his bill Tuesday.
“Following the tragedy in San Bernardino, we have learned that the Obama Administration has declined to review information available on social media platforms to screen for threats from foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States,” said McCain. “This purposeful refusal to examine publicly available information defies belief, especially as we grapple with complex technical questions to address the problem of criminals and terrorists ‘going dark,’ or utilizing readily available encryption to escape court-ordered government search.”
“It is unacceptable that Congress has to legislate on this, and that it wasn’t already the Department of Homeland Security’s practice to take such commonsense steps when screening individuals entering this country,” McCain continued. “This is just the latest, unfortunate example of this Administration’s refusal to proactively address very real threats to our national security. It is critical that we have the strongest policies and procedures in place for background checks that reflect the evolving security threats facing our nation.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration embarked on a characteristically leisurely review of this deadly insanity, instructing the Departments of Homeland Security and State to “review the process for screening people who apply for visas and to return with specific recommendations to close security gaps in the U.S. visa system,” as Fox News quotes White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
“DHS 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,” the Fox report continues.