Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Global Impact: Federal Government Can't Find 6,000 Foreigners on Student Visas

The Obama Administration is unable to locate 6,000 foreign nationals who have entered the United States on student visas, raising concerns about the federal government's ability to track potential terror suspects who may already be in the country.

"My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything," Peter Edge, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official who oversees investigations into visa violators, told ABC News.  "Some of them could be here to do us harm."

The news comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to block British jihadists with passports from re-entering Britain as the threat of violence from IS  intensifies. 

The move builds on a pledge PM Cameron made Monday (September 1) to withdraw passports from UK nationals suspected of having traveled abroad to fight alongside IS and their surrogates. 

According to ABC News, US immigration officials have had difficulty keeping track of the escalating number of foreign students entering the United States. In the past year alone, 58,000 students overstayed their visas.

COMMENT: The puzzling question remains: Where are these 6,000 foreigners who have disappeared in our country? How many are engaged in nefarious activities?

Please see my September 1, 2014 posting below:

It is logical to conclude that if US universities are not properly accounting for the whereabouts of foreign students, then perhaps we have an ongoing, out-of-control  national security issue that needs to be promptly addressed!

Please consider this: If even one IS extremist loyal to the terror group enters the US disappears, it is one too many.

"They just disappear," Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told ABC NEWS. "They get the visas and they disappear." 

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the United States on terrorism-related charges, ABC NEWS reports.

The 9/11 Commission had recommended that the student visa program be tightened to combat future threats but the system continues to remain vulnerable to abuse, yet years later, where are these 6,000 foreign students?

There are currently 9,000 institutions of higher learning which are on the government-approved list certifying them to accept overseas applicants. 

The US Congress has raised concerns that immigration officials have continued to grant schools certification even when they lack accreditation, state certification, or other measurable academic standards. 

"When schools are not legitimate that enable terrorists to come here under a fraudulent basis and disappear into the fabric of society without anybody knowing that they are here for illegitimate reason," Janice Kephart, counsel to the 9/11 Commission, told ABC NEWS. 

Schools are ultimately responsible for keeping track of visa holders and are required to report to the government if students fail to attend class, but a number of institutions have been more focused on selling visas rather than 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," Senator Coburn said. "To me, it's a mess."

Edge said that while immigration agents are attempting to locate missing students, there is "a lot more work to do" to tighten the student visa program, ABC NEWS reported.