“My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything,” said Peter Edge, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who oversees investigations into visa violators. “Some of them could be here to do us harm.”
Homeland Security officials disclosed the breadth of the student visa problem in response to ABC News questions submitted as part of an investigation into persistent complaints about the nation’s entry program for students.
ABC News found that immigration officials have struggled to keep track of the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign students coming to the U.S. — now in excess of one million each year. The immigration agency’s own figures show that 58,000 students overstayed their visas in the past year. Of those, 6,000 were referred to agents for follow-up because they were determined to be of heightened concern.
This is a protect the border issue and according to Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the U.S. on terror-related charges.
Edge said ICE agents are trying to locate every one of the 6,000 missing students, but acknowledged that “we really have a lot more work to do” to tighten up the student visa program.
Despite repeated concerns raised by Congress, federal immigration officials have also continued to grant schools certification to accept overseas applicants even if the schools lack accreditation, state certification, or any obvious measure of academic rigor.
There are now more than 9,000 schools on the government approved list. The list includes such top flight American colleges as Harvard and Yale, but it also includes 86 beauty schools, 36 massage schools and nine schools that teach horseshoeing. Foreign students can enter the U.S. on a visa to study acupuncture, hair braiding, or join academies that focus on tennis and golf.
Maybe that is why Obama plays so much golf, he is checking out all of those people overstaying their golf visas.
Once the student arrives in the U.S., it is up to the schools to keep track of the visa-holder’s whereabouts — and report to the government if they repeatedly miss class.
That is a serious concern, Coburn said, because a number of for-profit schools appear to have been operating with a primary goal of selling visas, not educating students.
“We know we have a lot of non-accredited universities that are using this system to bring people in, collect money, and not educate them at all,” said Coburn, who is part of a bi-partisan group of senators that has been trying to tighten controls on student visas. “To me, it’s a mess.”
The man who drove the van containing explosives into the World Trade Center garage in 1993 was also a student visa holder who was a no-show at school. The terrorist who flew a plane into the Pentagon also was a visa no-show. People who overstay their visa or come in on a student visa but don’t go to school ARE a threat. Does it really take another 3,000 dead for people to realize that?
The fact this visa issue has not been fixed is astounding. But incredibly over a decade ago a system was developed to screen who comes in and out of the country but the ACLU types objected. As explained by Michelle Malkin:
The concept of a national security entry-exit screening database is at least 10 years old. It’s an idea that was sabotaged by the progressive soft-on-security ideologues with whom Rubio has recklessly partnered.
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration created NSEERS, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. Administered and championed by Justice Department constitutional lawyer, immigration enforcement expert and now-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, NSEERS stopped at least 330 known foreign criminals and three known terrorists who had attempted to come into the country at certain official ports of entry.
NSEERS required higher scrutiny and common-sense registration requirements for individuals from jihad-friendly countries including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as other at-risk countries. The basic components included a more rigorous application process in light of the shoddy visa questionnaires and undetected overstays of the 9/11 hijackers; 30 extra minutes of interviewing at ports of entry; a digital fingerprint check and in-person registration after they arrived in the interior of the country; and verification of departure once they exited.
When the Obama administration took over, indefinitely suspended the NSEERS pilot program because this President believes in open borders—and congress does nothing.
Michelle explains that six times over the past 18 years a computer system to track foreigners who comes and out of the country has been mandated by congress, however along with the double fence on our southern border it sits in the trashcan of security legislation passed by congress and never executed.
Where is Congress why aren’t they fixing this problem (and the rest of the border security issues) now!
This is idiotic. Why are we wasting time whining about a comprehensive immigration policy instead of protecting the citizens in this country? We need to seal our borders and soon, not only the southern border but the northern one also. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi made a wrong turn and accidentally crosses the border into Mexico; he has been in a Mexican jail for five months so far because he had firearms with him (which he immediately declared). The United States on the other hand has no idea who is coming in, out, or staying in the country and what they have with them. Of course the vast majority of those “missing” visa students are here with good intent, however it just takes one with nefarious intent to cause a major tragedy.
According to the “social contract” between governments and their populace the number one job of a government is to protect its citizens. The fact that DHS has “lost” more than 6,000 foreigners who have overstayed their visas as well as the other sealing the border issues is a major failure of our government —both parties. And if (when) there is another 9/11 on our shores the blame will sit squarely on the heads of those Republican and Democratic progressives who ignore the safety of Americans, who compromise security for the “Shangri-la” of a comprehensive immigration plan.
Protecting the borders of this country should be number one domestic issue above everything else. Minimum wage, jobs, energy….none of it matters if your body parts are exploded throughout the neighborhood. Any member of congress who speaks of immigration reform before the borders are verified as secure, before we know who is coming into the country and whether or not they have left is abdicating their responsibility to America for political gain.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air seems even angrier than I am...read his post here.