The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused immigration officials Saturday of failing to adequately vet the visa application of terrorist and San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik.
A review of Malik’s immigration file raises troubling questions about the vetting process for her fiancé visa, Judiciary head Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said. The review comes at a time of increased scrutiny of the K-1 fiancé visa program following the shooting earlier this monh in which Malik and her husband slaughtered 14 people.
“It is clear that immigration officials did not thoroughly vet her application,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “In order to obtain a fiancée visa, it is required to demonstrate proof that the U.S. citizen and foreign national have met in person. However, Malik’s immigration file does not show sufficient evidence for this requirement.
“What is worse, the immigration official reviewing Malik’s application requested more evidence to ensure the two met in person but it was never provided and her visa was approved anyway,” the congressman said.
Malik and her husband were killed in a shootout with police after the shooting. Authorities say that right after the attack Malik went on Facebook and pledged support to the leader of the ISIS terror group.
Previous reports say Malik had been living in Pakistan and visiting family in Saudi Arabia before she passed the background check and entered the U.S. in July 2014 with her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S. citizen whose family was originally from Pakistan.
“Visa security is critical to national security, and it’s unacceptable that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not fully vet Malik’s application and instead sloppily approved her visa,” Goodlatte said.
A requirement for a K-1 visa is proof that the U.S. citizen petitioner and the foreign national have met.
Goodlatte said Malik’s immigration file contains only two pieces of information on this subject: a statement by Farook that he and Malik had been together in Saudi Arabia and copies of pages from their passports, containing visas to enter the country and stamps in Arabic.
The immigration official reviewing the K-1 application requested that the stamps be translated into English but the file does not indicate this was done, Goodlatte said.
He said a Congressional Research Service contractor who translated the passport stamps for Judiciary Committee staffers said Malik’s passport shows a Saudi Arabia entry stamp dated approximately June 4, 2013. The contractor could not make out the exit stamp because it was partially illegible.
Goodlatte said Farook’s passport, after the translation, shows a Saudi Arabia entry stamp of Oct. 1, 2013 and an exit stamp around Oct. 20, 2013.
Goodlatte said that even if the couple were in Sauid Arabia at the same time, this does not provide evidence that they met in person. Additionally, Malik’s visa Saudi Arabia visa was good for 60 days. This would cast doubt on the claim they were in Saudi Arabia at the same time.
Last week, congressional lawmakers at three separate hearings grilled FBI Director James Comey and other Obama administration officials, demanding to know how Malik gained admittance to the U.S.
“Was she actually given an interview in the K-1 process, do we know that?” Sen. David Purdue, R-Ga., asked the FBI boss during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
Comey replied that “the process requires” an interview, but that he didn’t know if one occurred.
An interview and a cursory check of Malik’s application might have revealed that she used a phony address and had attended an Islamist school in Pakistan which critics say forges an anti-Western view in students.
At another hearing that same day, Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told a House panel no interview was required.