FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Both of Connecticut's senators are calling for the Department of Homeland Security to immediately require a review of the social media of all visa applicants be part of the background screening process for all those seeking to enter the United States.
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H) and 19 of their Democratic Senate colleagues, in releasing a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on the issue.
The letter comes in the wake of reports that the female assailant involved in the San Bernardino terrorist attack may have expressed support for terrorism on social media platforms before her fiancé – the male attacker and a U.S. citizen – applied for a K-1 fiancé visa on her behalf.
“We write to express our deep concern regarding reports that critical background information of individuals participating in American visa programs has been largely omitted from the visa security screening process. Media reports have also indicated that Department of Homeland Security officials are able to conduct social media background checks as a part of certain immigration programs, but are doing so inconsistently,” wrote the Senators.
“We believe these checks, focused on possible connections to terrorist activity, should be incorporated into DHS’s vetting process for visa determinations, and that this policy should be implemented as soon as possible. We look forward to working with you to establish a more robust social media background check process for all visitors and immigrants to the United States.”
The Senate Democrats also requested more information from Homeland Security on the existing screening process, resource constraints, and plans to integrate reviews of social media accounts into the background screening process to ensure the process is as rigorous and comprehensive as possible.
The letter was also signed by U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Tom Carper (D-Del.).
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