At a House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday, a State Department official admitted the government does not know the whereabouts of thousands of foreigners who had their visas revoked over terror concerns.
“You don’t have a clue do you?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Michele Thoren Bond, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Bond told the committee that the U.S. has revoked more than 122,000 visas, 9,500 of which were revoked due to terrorism concerns.
Chaffetz asked Bond where those individuals were located now, to which she responded: “I don’t know.”
The startling admission came as members of the committee pressed administration officials on what safeguards are in place to reduce the risk from would-be extremists.
At issue is how closely the U.S. government examines the background of people seeking entry to the country, including reviews of their social media postings.
“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?” said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. “We don’t even look at their public stuff, that’s what kills me.”
Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told committee members: “There is less there that is actually of screening value than you would expect, at least in small early samples, some things seem more ambiguous than clear.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Wednesday, “There are some legal limits to what we can do.”
Chaffetz opened the hearing by saying: “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 [Tashfeen] Malik and what we are doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
FBI Director James Comey had said earlier this week that Malik was communicating online with future husband Syed about jihad and martyrdom before getting married.