9/9/14, "No-brainers for keeping ISIS out," Betsy McCaughey, NY Post
"President Obama will be meeting Tuesday with congressional leaders and military advisers on his strategy for battling ISIS overseas....But his plan reportedly sees it taking three years to destroy ISIS, and Obama still has said
nothing about stopping jihadists
from bringing their terror here.
It’s up to Congress to act on this urgent issue.
I wrote last week about the need for laws to allow seizing the passports of Americans fighting for ISIS and barring them from returning, but we also need to fix legal-immigration loopholes.
Terrorists have been exploiting some of these since before 9/11, but at least one is new:
- Reverse the administration ruling that welcomes asylum seekers who’ve provided only “limited material support” to terrorists.
- Outlaw visas to “study” at unaccredited institutions, which often are nothing more than visa mills.
- Crack down on overstaying visas.
Of course, immigration offers huge benefits to our nation. And not all terrorists are foreign-born. But these weak links in enforcement have to be closed to thwart another 9/11. That’s not anti-immigration. It’s anti-terror.
The asylum issue, unfortunately, could require a fight with the White House.
Federal law bars the granting of asylum to people with terrorist connections, but in February the administration unilaterally loosened the law to welcome asylum seekers who have provided only “limited material support” to terrorists.
Congress should reverse Obama’s dangerous new policy. There is a long history of asylum seekers killing Americans. The parents of the Boston Marathon bombers came here on tourist visas and then sought asylum.
In 1993, Pakistani asylum-seeker Ramzi Yousef bombed the World Trade Center. Another Pakistani asylum-seeker, Mir Aimal Kansi, gunned down two CIA agents in Virginia in 1993.
John Q. Public has nothing to gain, and everything — including his safety — to lose from lax asylum rules.
One little-noted section of the “comprehensive” (meaning unread) immigration bill that passed the Senate last year would’ve eased the asylum process. After the bill died in the House, the president acted on his own in February.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) supported lifting the restrictions on asylum seekers, because they “resulted in deserving refugees and asylees being barred” when they may have only cooperated with terrorists under pressure. Barring some of these people may be harsh, but how are you going to investigate their claims?
The other two fixes should be no-brainers.
The 9/11 Commission urged Congress to tighten student visas, citing the hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon after he entered the United States on a student visa but never showed up for school.
Since 9/11, another 26 student-visa holders have been arrested on terrorist-related charges.
Yet Homeland Security has allowed the number of student visas to more than double since 2003. The agency admits that at least 58,000 overstayed their visas in the past year, and it has lost track entirely of about 6,000 overstayers.
A big part of the problem, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) points out, is for-profit unaccredited schools that literally sell visas to would-be “students” claiming to study everything from horseshoeing to hair-braiding. Coburn says these schools “are using the system to bring people in, collect money and not educate them at all.”
It’s their gain, and John Q. Public’s risk. The 9/11 attacks showed that visa overstaying is a big danger to the nation.
Yet the General Accountability Office reported last year that enforcement of temporary visa deadlines is so sloppy, the Department of Homeland Security won’t even estimate how many overstayers are in the country now.
Indeed, the federal government hasn’t offered an estimate since 1994, pleading a lack of reliable data. But the number is likely over 1 million.
In February 2012, the FBI arrested Amine El Khalifim; he was wearing an explosive-packed suicide vest and headed to blow up the US Capitol. He’d been in the country 12 years, long after his visa expired.
At a July 29 hearing, Congress was warned that terror attacks are a clear and present danger here at home. Despite the president’s unwillingness to focus on it, Congress must act to fix this danger right under our noses." via Michael Savage
US politicians have doubled student visas for foreign nationals from 2003-2012. 6000 determined to be of "heightened concern" in the past year can't be found:
"Foreign nationals obtaining visas to study in the U.S. has grown from 662,966 in 2003 to more than 1.2 million in 2012."
9/2/14, "Lost in America: Visa Program Struggles to Track Missing Foreign Students," abcnews.go.com, Brian Ross, Matthew Mosk
"The Department of Homeland Security has lost track of more than 6,000 foreign nationals who entered the United States on student visas, overstayed their welcome, and essentially vanished -- exploiting a security gap that was supposed to be fixed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
"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
“They just disappear,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “They get the visas and they disappear.” Coburn said since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the U.S. on terror-related charges.
Tightening up the student visa program was one of the major recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, after it was determined that the hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour, had entered the U.S. on a student visa but never showed up for school.
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
hair braiding, or
join academies that focus on tennis and golf.
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.”
One school on the approved list, MicroPower Career Institute, licensed by the state of New York, continues to have four campuses on the approved list, even though
five of the school’s top officials -- including its president --
were indicted on charges of visa fraud in May.
According to the indictment, 80 percent of the foreign students enrolled MicroPower had delinquent attendance, putting them out of compliance with their visas. But the school did not report them, the indictment says. All five school officials have pleaded not guilty in the case.
ABC News visited MicroPower’s small fifth floor campus in a Manhattan office suite, but the school declined to make anyone available to comment.
Edge, who is Executive Associate Director at for ICE Homeland Security Investigations, said his agency had no choice but to continue to allow MicroPower to facilitate student visas.
“I can only say that this is the United States of America and everyone has due process,” Edge said.
The MicroPower case is one of several that touch on broader questions long raised about the student visa program.
Thomas Kean 9/11 Commission Co-Chair said the government has yet to address the security gaps the program has created. He said was stunned the federal government continues to lose track of so many foreign nationals who had entered the country with student visas. He noted that, even before the 9/11 terror attacks, federal officials had been aware of the gaps in the student visa program.
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.
“It's been pointed out over and over and over again and the fact that nothing has been done about it yet... it's a very dangerous thing for all of us,” Kean said....
Janice Kephart, who was counsel to the 9/11 Commission and co-author of a separate report looking at how the hijackers entered the U.S., said the credibility of schools certified by ICE is another significant concern....
ICE has taken steps to address the issue, especially in the aftermath of a damning report by the Government Accountability Office in 2012, which found the agency had failed to adequately police for visa fraud. ICE officials told ABC News, for instance, that it has undertaken a new program to deploy field representatives around the country to personally inspect schools that had been approved to accept foreign students. So far, 15 field representatives have been hired, with a plan to ultimately employ 60 around the country, according to spokesperson Carissa Cutrell.
The agency has also launched a program -- so far installed at one airport, but planned for others -- that will immediately alert a customs inspector if a student is attempting to re-enter the country after their status has been flagged by a school official....
Edge said part of the blame for the continued trouble with the student visa program stems from a
Congress that has been unwilling to impose tighter limits on schools --
many of which profit from tuition paid by foreign students.
Coburn, as well as Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Chuck Schumer, D-NY, were among those pushing for limiting ICE certification to accredited schools in 2012.
The effort to expand options for foreign study appear to be prevailing. According to figures gathered by congressional investigators, the number of foreign nationals obtaining visas to study in the U.S. has grown from 662,966 in 2003 to more than 1.2 million in 2012.
Edge said his agency has accepted that those numbers represent a continued challenge for the Department of Homeland Security.
“Our work has only begun,” he said. “We have a lot more work to do in this space.”"