Kerry: 'We Know Who's Coming Into Our Country for the Most Part'

Susan Jones | December 14, 2015 | 5:07am EST
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This undated file photo, provided by the FBI, shows Tashfeen Malik, who lived previously in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. (FBI via AP, File)

( - "We have plenty of ways to vet people. We already do it," Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"We have a huge process of examining people for visas. We know who's coming into our country for the most part."

But the vetting does not include what people post on social media.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported that immigration officials "do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks, and there is a debate inside the Department of Homeland Security over whether it is even appropriate to do so."

The report noted that San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik passed three background checks when she applied for a fiance visa, but U.S. officials did not check her social media postings where she openly supported violent jihad.

Host Chuck Todd asked Kerry this on Sunday: "It turned out, she had been communicating radical beliefs on social media before she applied for her fiancee visa," Todd told Kerry. He asked the Secretary of State if the visa vetting process needs to include a look at a visa applicant's social media  history.

"The review has been ordered, and we need to look at whether there should be and how we can do it," Kerry replied.

"But clearly the social media has placed a whole new burden and a whole new set of questions, but not impossible ones to resolve; and I think we need to look at this very, very carefully, which is what we're doing, before we jump to a wholesale prohibition without understanding what the implications may be."

Kerry said "categorizing people" who are Muslim "is discrimination, and it's contrary, I think, to the fundamental values of our country."

According to the New York Times, President Obama has ordered a review of the K-1 (fiance) visa program. The administration is trying to determine "whether those background checks can be expanded without causing major delays in the popular program."

Republican Donald Trump prompted a furor last week when he suggested that all immigration by Muslims should be "paused" until U.S. officials can identify the vetting vulnerabilities.

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