- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 19, 2015

The two San Bernardino terrorists were approved for a fiance visa even though there was no concrete proof they had ever even met in person, according to a House Judiciary Committee review of their immigration file.

Investigators demanded proof of the meeting and had a number of follow-up questions that also went unanswered, but the Homeland Security Department approved the visa anyway, said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and Judiciary Committee chairman.

The Obama administration insisted it didn’t see any red flags that would have prevented the approval of Tashfeen Malik’s K-1 visa, which she would use to enter the U.S., marry Syed Farook and, earlier this month, go on to slaughter 14 people and wound 22 others at Farook’s workplace in San Bernardino, California.

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say there were signs, including messages Malik exchanged on social media and an inaccurate address on her visa application, that should have raised questions for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Now, with the full file in his hands, Mr. Goodlatte said, he sees even more problems with the application.

One of the requirements for a K-1 visa is for the couple to prove they have met in person. When the reviewer asked for proof, the evidence the couple provided was a statement by Farook that they met in Saudi Arabia and copies of pages from their passports showing entry and exit stamps.

The stamps were in Arabic, and the reviewer requested English translations, but the file doesn’t contain those documents, raising the question of whether the reviewer ever saw them.

For the Judiciary Committee’s investigation, it had the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, through a contractor, translate the stamps into English. Malik’s passport showed an entry to Saudi Arabia that appeared to be June 4, 2013. The exit stamp is only partially legible, and the month and date are obscured.

Farook’s passport showed an entry date of Oct. 1, 2013, and the exit stamp appeared to be Oct. 20.

Although the two might have met during that time, the Judiciary Committee said the stamps aren’t enough proof. Because Malik’s visa was good for only 60 days, she would have had to leave Saudi Arabia by the beginning of August.

“This would cast doubt on the claim that the two were in Saudi Arabia at the same time. And even if Farook and Malik met in Saudi Arabia, there is insufficient evidence in the file for USCIS to have made that determination,” the committee concluded.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill have speculated that the marriage was arranged in order to advance the plans for the attack, and the sketchy details about the meeting beforehand could back up that narrative.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services referred questions about Malik’s visa to the State Department, which insisted that it followed all its procedures but refused to say any more about why it approved an apparently incomplete application.

“There were no indications of any ill intent at the time that visa was issued,” a department official said.

The official said they were banned by law from talking about anything else from Malik’s application.

Obama administration immigration policies are increasingly under fire as the terrorist threat grows.

Reports of Syrians traveling on bogus passports in the Western Hemisphere, combined with reports that at least one of the attackers in Paris last month sneaked into Europe as a refugee, mean worries that used to exist chiefly within Republican circles over President Obama’s lax enforcement have spread.

Homeland Security insists it’s managing the situation, but the vetting of Malik, and the department’s insistence that it doesn’t know of anything else it could have done, have not sat well with Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans have grilled administration officials.

“Exactly what are you doing to close those holes, to assure that those gaps are narrowed,” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico Democrat, demanded of witnesses testifying last week to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Officials said they were reviewing the situation at Mr. Obama’s direction and trying to figure out whether they needed to add or change the timing of interviews. They may also try to broaden their screening of social media, though Homeland Security officials fear treading on foreigners’ privacy. The chief of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was unable to explain to Congress, however, exactly what those worries were.

The K-1 visa is technically a nonimmigrant visa, but officials screen it as if it were an immigrant visa because it’s a precursor to a marriage, which usually means immigration.

K-1 applicants must undergo medical exams, present police certificates from countries where they have lived to show they don’t have criminal records, and often must face interviews.

In Malik’s case, it has been reported that she may have given a wrong address on her application.

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