Homeland Security Considers Plan to Check Social Media During Visa Reviews

visasBy Steve Neavling

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson decided in early 2014 to continue barring immigration officials from reviewing social media posts of people trying to enter the U.S. on a visa, The Hill reports. 

Johnson’s reasoning was that proponents of civil liberties would denounce checking social media and that the practice would cause “bad public relations.”

“During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security for intelligence and analysis, told ABC News.

But beginning in the fall of 2014, Homeland Security began vetting social media for some foreigners applying for a visa as part of a pilot program.

The news comes after the discovery that one of the San Bernardino shooters pledged allegiance to Islamic jihad on Facebook.

“Had they checked out Tashfeen Malik … maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, who supports a program for reviewing social media sites of foreigners applying for a visa.

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