Losing track of student visa terrorist

Center for Immigration Studies:
Given that would-be Wall Street bomber Quazi Mohammed Nafis had a student visa,1 as did Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad2and as did the 9/11 pilots Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi 11 years earlier, 3 perhaps it is time to look a little more closely at the sleepy agency that regulates the educational bodies that play host to foreign students, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

SEVP is a subset of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which, in turn, is part of the Department of Homeland Security. An educational institution cannot cause the admission of aliens without getting the general authority to do so from SEVP. ICE is also supposed to stop the operations of visa mills, store-front entities that collect tuition from aliens in exchange for visas, but do not, in fact, offer any education.

It turns out that SEVP is an immigration enforcement agency that sometimes complains about a lack of funds4 to do its job, but that consistently refuses to spend money allocated to it, and refuses to raise the fees that would solve its own funding problems.

That those people who either did, or wanted to, spread death and destruction in Manhattan had used student visas is generally known, but little has been written on the structure, and strange funding, of SEVP.

Generally, it appears that:
  • There are a massive number of foreign students; SEVP puts the current number of students and their dependents at close to 1.2 million, 5 many of whom will stay here for the rest of their lives, some legally and some illegally.
  • The government has decided to manage these million-plus aliens indirectly through more than 10,000 educational institutions and has put SEVP in charge of that process. These institutions range from Harvard and Stanford at one end of the continuum, to corrupt visa mills and the flight schools that helped train the 9/11 terrorist pilots at the other.
  • SEVP, in turn, is an all-too-modest agency that seems to have a limited enthusiasm for the enforcement aspects of its job and when challenged will say that it has only limited resources to combat fraud at the immigration/education nexus.
  • In reality, however, it potentially has an abundance of money to handle law enforcement — 99 percent of it from fees paid by the foreign students6 — but has used only portions of it; at the end of FY 2012 it had an estimated $135 million in surplus, more than enough to fund a year's activities. Further, it can raise substantial additional funds without using a penny of taxpayer money.
There is much more.

I think the lack of effort in this area comes from the top.  ICE's top management does not seem to like its mission and sets out to thwart enforcement of immigration laws.  I suspect they maybe taking orders directly from Obama in dealing with illegals and legal aliens.


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