Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Applauds Plan to Screen Social Media of Immigrants

Oct 16, 2017
Press Release
Security Checks Begin This Week

Congressman Authored Screening Bill in 2015 

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan, who sponsored legislation to screen social media accounts of all foreigners entering the United States, today commended a new administration policy matching his bill.

The Department of Homeland Security announced it will begin collecting social media data of all immigrants entering the United States this week (Oct. 18), mirroring legislation introduced by Buchanan in the last two sessions of Congress.

“Checking social media is standard practice for thousands of employers.” Buchanan said. “We need to make sure the individuals entering the U.S. are not here to harm Americans.”

Buchanan’s Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act, which he introduced in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, directed the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country.

Buchanan said that although his bill did not pass Congress, he was pleased to see the policy implemented by the Trump administration.

“Radical Islamic jihadists use the Internet and social media sites to communicate, fundraise, and recruit,” Buchanan said. “It’s time to fight fire with fire. To win on the digital battlefield, mandatory social media screening is required.”

Buchanan praised the administration’s decision, noting that “online radicalization is an acute threat to the United States.” 

The congressman pointed to Ahmad Khan Rahami, currently on trial for a series of bombings across New York and New Jersey last year, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2011. At the time of Rahami’s naturalization, U.S. authorities did not check his social media accounts, but if they had, “they would have found multiple links to radical jihadi videos,” intelligence officials told NBC News.

Screening the social media accounts of visa applicants has received bipartisan support. In a 2015 letter, a number of congressional Democrats urged DHS to begin collecting social media data from visa applicants. “We believe these checks, focused on possible connections to terrorist activity, should be incorporated into DHS.’s vetting process for visa determinations, and that this policy should be implemented as soon as possible,” the group said in the letter.