Barack Obama has been addressing the San Bernardino shootings carried out by Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook on a daily basis since the attack was carried out last week, with one of his most recent speeches touching on the visa with which Tashfeen was able to enter the United States.
Speaking on Sunday, Barack referred to the way that Malik had been able to gain access to the country from Saudi Arabia where she had met her husband. In the speech, Obama said that Tashfeen had entered under a “visa waiver program.”
“We constantly examine our strategy to determine when additional steps are needed to get the job done. That’s why I’ve ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country. And that’s why I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.”
Soon after the speech ended, the White House issued a statement that Malik had entered on was actually another type of visa.
In this case, Barack was actually speaking about a “fiancé visa,” officially known as a K1 visa. The program is specifically reserved for U.S. citizens who are seeking citizenship for their spouse, like Malik, from another country. Although the visa waiver program has a similar 90 Day limit, it is actually for a small group of countries entering the country for business or travel purposes, reported the Los Angeles Times.
In order to qualify for the K1 visa, Malik would have, at some point, made a statement about former or planned terrorist activities. State Department spokesman Mark Toner detailed the process visa applicants undergo on Thursday, when questioning was first raised about program.
“Since 9/11, all of these involve multiple layers of vetting with multiple agencies putting folks through various systems, where we watch individuals, what their affiliations are, whether they’re on any kind of watch lists. All of this is done for any visa applicant.”
Here are steps Congress can take right now to help defeat the terrorist threat from ISIL and keep Americans safe. https://t.co/YFgbTSXndX
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 7, 2015
Also notable in the speech was a separate mention of the San Bernardino attacks where Obama admitted that the incident was indeed an act of terrorism. Still, he noted, there was no definitive evidence that Tashfeen and Syed were linked with any official organization. Those words echo Hillary Clinton’s similar Sunday statement that Malik and Farook were ISIS “wannabes.”
“The FBI is still gathering the facts… So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.”
Tashfeen Malik’s visa is sure to be a hot topic for Barack Obama in the upcoming weeks as the president battles to keep Middle Eastern refugee programs open against opposition from those who believe they are loopholes for terrorists to penetrate American borders.
[Image via Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images]