Chairman Johnson Reveals Lack of Cooperation Between USCIS and ICE In Aftermath of San Bernardino Attacks

WASHINGTON — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) revealed the lack of coordination between United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during an incident at the San Bernardino USCIS office the day after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents were alerted by the FBI that Enrique Marquez, who supplied the weapons that Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik used to carry out the attacks in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, 2015, was scheduled for an immigration hearing at USCIS in San Bernardino on Dec. 3, 2015, together with his wife. According to an HSI memo from earlier this year, when HSI agents arrived at the USCIS office to detain Marquez, the USCIS denied the HSI agents entry into the building and later refused to provide relevant immigration documents to HSI.

VIDEO: Watch Sen. Johnson’s remarks here.

Johnson, reading from the memo, said during the hearing:

“At approximately 12 p.m. on Dec. 3, the FBI informed HSI and the [Joint Terrorism Task Force] that FBI field interview agents learned that Marquez and his wife, Mariya Chernykh, were scheduled for a meeting at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in San Bernardino for noon on Dec. 3.  HSI contacted the HSI special agent requesting a team of armed agents to respond to the San Bernardino USCIS office in order to detain Marquez until an FBI interview team could be dispatched.  The special agent informed the HSI team that the officer in charge of USCIS would not let HSI agents in the building.  . . . The special agent learned that Marquez and Chernykh did not show up for their meeting.  The special agent requested copies of the A-File in which USCIS refused.  The special agent was allowed to take a photo of Chernykh’s photo contained within the A-file.”

Rodriguez replied, “Unfortunately it all happened so quickly that it was incorrectly perceived that our folks were trying to in some way obstruct what ICE was trying to do. Do we need to look at our protocols to make sure that those misunderstandings don’t occur? That is something that we may well need to do.”