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Ex-Homeland Security official: San Bernardino case points to 'vulnerabilities' in immigration system

FBI agents and local law enforcement examine the crime scene where suspects of the Inland Regional Center were killed on December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
FBI agents and local law enforcement examine the crime scene where suspects of the Inland Regional Center were killed on December 3, 2015 in San Bernardino, California.

The mass shooting that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino on Wednesday has raised all manner of questions for law enforcement - especially, if and how it may have been prevented.

One of the alleged shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, was a U.S. citizen born in Illinois. His wife and alleged accomplice, Tashfeen Malik, was originally from Pakistan; she arrived in the U.S. on a K-1 fiancee visa in July 2014, and was on her way to becoming a legal permanent resident.

Federal officials say they are now investigating the shooting as an act of terrorism. But neither of the two suspects had raised red flags with authorities in the past, including Malik, who was screened before entering the U.S. Could federal officials have done anything different?

KPCC spoke with Claude Arnold, until recently the agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Los Angeles office. Here are his thoughts on the case.

KPCC: When you look at this case, what kinds of questions come up for you?

KPCC: What sort of scrutiny is given to people who enter the United States on a fiancee visa, as Tashfeen Malik did?
KPCC: So if you are coming from a place like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, you would  be subject to additional scrutiny?
KPCC: Tashfeen Malik had recently received her conditional green card, which means she would have gone through even more screening, correct? 
KPCC: But she didn't raise any concerns. Local authorities say the same. The same goes for her husband, who was a U.S. citizen. Syed Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia, where they were married. Would this in itself have raised questions?
KPCC: So neither of them raised any red flags, even in the immigration process. What, then, to do?