San Bernardino jihadi Tashfeen Malik’s fiancée visa was “sloppily approved” by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), Virginia Rep. [crscore]Bob Goodlatte[/crscore] said Saturday.
Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, reviewed Malik’s visa application and determined that USCIS failed to verify whether the Pakistani national had met her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, in person before applying for the K-1 fiancée visa.
The two terrorists killed 14 people earlier this month at a holiday party being held for the county agency that employed Farook.
Immigration law requires that a U.S. citizen — such as the Chicago-born Farook — must have met their foreign national fiancée in person before applying for the visa — a measure which is meant to prove that the relationship is sincere.
But according to Goodlatte, it is not clear from Malik’s immigration file that she and Farook fulfilled the requirement. The couple reportedly met online and were married in Aug. 2014 in Riverside, Calif., but the visa dates on their passports do not indicate that they were in the same country at the same time prior to filing for the K-1.
“Malik’s immigration file does not show sufficient evidence for this requirement,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “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.”
Goodlatte notes that Malik’s immigration file contains only two pieces of information pertaining to the personal meeting requirement: a statement by Farook that he and Malik were together in Saudi Arabia and copies of pages in their passports with visas to enter Saudi Arabia.
Malik’s passport bears a stamp indicating that she entered Saudi Arabia on June 4, 2013. The exit stamp on her passport is partially illegible, and a translator could not determine what month and day she left. Malik’s Saudi Arabia visa would have been good for only 60 days, meaning that she would have had to leave the country at the beginning of Aug. 2013.
Farook’s passport shows that he entered Saudi Arabia on Oct. 1, 2013. His passport bears an exit stamp showing that he let on Oct. 20, 2013.
According to some reports, Farook went to Saudi Arabia at that time to take part in the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. He traveled to Saudi Arabia again last year and married Malik. The couple leave behind a six-month-old daughter.
“However, even if Farook and Malik were in Saudi Arabia at the same time, this does not provide evidence that they met in person,” Goodlatte stated, adding that Malik’s 60-day visa “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.”
Immigration fraud would not be foreign to Farook. His brother, Raheel, and their friend, Enrique Marquez, likely engaged in immigration fraud by marrying two Russian sisters. Marquez has been charged for conspiring in 2011 or 2012 with Syed Farook to carry out a terrorist attack. He purchased two of the guns that Farook and Malik used in the recent attack. He was also paid to marry one of the Russian women so that she could live in the U.S.
“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 in his statement.
“Since the Obama Administration refuses to take the steps necessary to fully vet visa applicants, the House Judiciary Committee is working on a bill to strengthen visa processing security and protect national security,” he continued.