Rep. Randy Forbes: ‘In the Hands of Terrorists, Visas Can Become Weapons’

By Penny Starr | May 12, 2016 | 3:32pm EDT
Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), left, and Randy Forbes (R-Va.) spoke at a press conference at the Capitol on May 12, 2016 on legislation they have introduced to ensure proper vetting for people seeking visas to enter the United States. ( Starr)

( – Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said on Thursday that visas issued to terrorists turn the documents into “weapons” by allowing them entry into the United States without proper vetting.

“We also know that in the hands of terrorists, visas can become weapons,” Forbes said at a press conference at the Capitol.

Forbes – along with co-sponsors Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) – introduced the Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016 on Wednesday.

The Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016, which “strengthens the Visa screening process to combat immigration fraud, utilize social media to detect threat indicators, and better detect terrorists who may be plotting attacks like the one that occurred in San Bernardino, California this past December.”

Some specifics of the legislation include “heightened” scrutiny of people seeking a visa from countries designated as “countries of concern” as it relates to terrorism, by the State Department, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

It also requires DNA testing, to be paid for by the visa applicant, to prove relationship status on a family-based immigrant visa petition.

Forbes cited the Dec. 2, 2015 attack in San Bernardino, Calif., by two Islamic extremist terrorists – Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who entered the country on a “fiancé visa” in 2014.

“We know this: We know that those visas can create problems for us. They can be well intended,” Forbes said. “This iPhone that we have was intended for a good purpose, but we know in the hand of a terrorist this iPhone becomes a weapon.

“We also know that in the hands of terrorists, visas can become weapons,” Forbes said.

“We believe that coming to the United States of America is not a right - it’s a privilege - but we think it’s a right to be secure within the United States,” Forbes said.

“So if we have to balance those two between the privilege of coming to the United States and the right to be secure in the United States, we want to give the balance to the right to be secure in the United States,” “Forbes said.

“From the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the more recent attack in San Bernardino, we are reminded that terrorists have and will continue to exploit our immigration system to carry out their heinous plots,” Goodlatte said at the press conference.

“Visa security is critical to national security, and we must address gaping holes in our immigration system that allow those who wish Americans harm and fraudsters to game the system.”

“The United States Congress recognizes that visas can be weapons for terrorists,” Forbes said.

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