Student Visas & The Next 9/11

Before 9/11, our country was doing a miserable job of enforcing our immigration laws.

I can tell you this definitively because several years ago, I had a Turkish roommate. My roommate was here on a student visa, but he hadn’t been going to school for years and wasn’t planning to go back. Guess what? He still was able to get his student visa renewed, even though he was working at a restaurant and wasn’t registered for classes anywhere. That tells you that either nobody was bothering to check up on him or they just didn’t care.

Unfortunately, as Debbie Schlussel explains, it doesn’t sound as if things have improved much since back then:

“Where’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when it comes to checking visas of foreign students and whether they are continuing to pursue studies?

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Nowhere to be seen.

A lot of your tax money was supposed to be spent to check up on those foreign students. An expensive ($36.8 million) computerized system called SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information Service) was supposed to be used by ICE as a basis for investigating foreign student visa violations.

But ICE “leadership” must have dyslexia. Apparently, they think SEVIS is supposed be SIEVE. That’s how they’ve treated the system that was supposed to block illegal visitors, not welcome them in, unchecked, forever.

In the first year of SIEVE . . . er SEVIS, only 1,600 investigations and 155 arrests (and probably, much fewer convictions) have resulted out of over 36,000 student visa violations identified by the system. The rest got a get out of jail free card. Oops . . . they never went to jail. They’re just roaming free.”

Before you just shrug this off, it’s worth noting that had our immigration laws been followed, 9/11 would likely have never occurred. Keep in mind that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers should have been denied visas.” At least two of those terrorists who should have been rejected, Abdulaziz Alomari & Waleed al-Shehri, were claiming to be students. Here’s Joel Mowbray from National Review with the details:

“Brothers Wail and Waleed al-Shehri applied together for travel visas on October 24, 2000. Wail claimed his occupation was “teater,” while his brother wrote “student.” Both listed the name and address of his respective employer or school as simply “South City.” Each also declared a U.S. destination of “Wasantwn.” But what should have further raised a consular officer’s eyebrows is the fact that a student and his nominally employed brother were going to go on a four-to-six-month vacation, paid for by Wail’s “teater” salary, which he presumably would be foregoing while in the United States. Even assuming very frugal accommodations, such a trip for two people would run north of $15,000, yet there is no indication that the consular officer even attempted to determine that Wail in fact had the financial means to fund the planned excursion. They appear to have received their visas the same day they applied.

…Abdulaziz Alomari filled out a simple, two-page application for a visa to come to the United States. Alomari was not exactly the ideal candidate for a visa. He claimed to be a student, though he left blank the space for the name and address of his school. He checked the box claiming he was married, yet he left blank the area where he should have put the name of his spouse. Although he claimed to be a student, he marked on his form that he would self-finance a two-month stay at the “JKK Whyndham Hotel” — and provided no proof, as required under law, that he could actually do so.

…When he arrived in the United States, he connected with his friend, Mohammed Atta. And less than three months later — on September 11 — he and Atta helped crash American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.”

What is it going to take to motivate the federal government to enforce our immigration laws? Let’s hope the answer to that question doesn’t turn out to be: “Another 9/11.”

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