Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan to Introduce Bill on Social Media Screening of Visas

Dec 17, 2015
Press Release
Legislation Mirrors Sen. John McCain’s Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, said today he will introduce legislation adding social media to the screening process of all foreigners who request visas to enter the United States. Buchanan’s bill will mirror legislation introduced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ.

The legislation requires the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before allowing foreign travelers into the United States.

Buchanan on Tuesday called for the White House to begin immediately screening social media after reports surfaced that the terrorists behind the San Bernardino killings had pledged support to Islamic jihad on their Facebook accounts. Since Buchanan’s call, the White House has indicated an interest in doing so.

“As terrorist threats continue to evolve, so too must our policies to safeguard our country,” Buchanan said. “We need every tool to protect Americans – and a key component is vetting all avenues of communication,” Buchanan said. “My bill will ensure that our government reviews all social media accounts before allowing foreign visa applicants into the United States.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that a former acting chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence bureau said civil liberties and privacy concerns have given some DHS officials reservations about scrutinizing visa applicants' social media posts.

“This country cannot afford to turn another blind eye,” Buchanan said. “It is time we put the safety of Americans ahead of the privacy of foreigners and political correctness.”

Last week the congressman voted for legislation to deny visa waivers to people who have traveled to Syria, Iraq and other high-risk nations during the previous five years. Additionally, the U.S. House passed the SAFE Act, with Buchanan’s support, last month requiring the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to personally certify that each and every refugee from Syria and Iraq is not a security threat.