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President Obama said Thursday that administration officials are reviewing the so-called "fiancé" visa that enabled one of the San Bernardino shooters to emigrate to the U.S.
Obama confirmed they were taking a fresh look at the K-1 visa after a meeting with his national security team at the National Counterterrorism Center outside Washington.
"The review that I ordered into the fiancé visa program, under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino came here, is ongoing," Obama said, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Secretary of State John Kerry and other top members of his administration.
The feds will look into each step of the K-1 visa process, from background checks to the interview process to how an applicant’s social media history is vetted, a senior State Department official told NBC News.
The aim is to keep out people like Tashfeen Malik, who came to California in July 2014 of a K-1 visa and who helped husband Syed Rizwan Farook murder 14 people and wound 21 more in San Bernardino before they were killed in a shootout with cops.
Federal investigators believe Malik and Farook were radicalized and bent on jihad long before they began dating. But FBI chief James Comey said Wednesday they “found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them.”
Since the 9/11 attacks, the feds have turned down on over 122,000 visas — including 9,500 for potential ties to terrorist activities, the official said.
The president reiterated that his administration is fighting terrorism on multiple fronts to help prevent an attack like the deadly shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., earlier this month.
"My highest priority is the security of the American people," Obama said, adding that they have received no "specific and credible" threats to the homeland.
In recent weeks, Obama has tried to reassure Americans — concerned by the deadly attacks in Paris and the mass killing in San Bernardino — that they were safe and that the administration and coalition forces are hitting ISIS “harder than ever.”
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was upgrading the public advisories it issues about possible terrorist threats. They will now will include suggestions about what people should do to deal with any crisis and inform them of things like longer screening lines at public events or airports.
DHS also issued its first “bulletin” which said that while there currently is no credible threat against the nation Americans should remain vigilant. That notification will remain in effect until June 16, 2016.
Earlier this week, Obama dispatched Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the Mideast to meet with our allies in the fight against the murderous ISIS militants.
But Obama has offered no new strategy solutions for eradicating ISIS — and continues to be hit hard by his Republican critics, including GOP presidential candidates, who have been demanding a more hawkish approach.
Obama, who was elected on a promise to extricate the U.S. from Iraq quagmire that the GOP wholeheartedly supported, has been reluctant to send American ground forces back to the country to battle ISIS.
The U.S. has, however, deployed 100 to 150 special operations forces to help lead combat raids against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. And it has ramped up air strikes against ISIS, targeting the militant group’s leaders and their oil production operations.