Terrorists Often Use Student Visa Process to Enter United States

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On the 9th of June, 2011 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a news release that has, yet again, caused me to shake my head in disbelief!

There are days when I read some of the “stuff” that is posted on these websites that I feel as though I am “dumpster diving!”

This time the press release I am concerned about announced that nonimmigrant Libyan students, who can prove economic hardship will be eligible for the granting of employment authorization with reduced requirements, if they can prove that the current chaos their country is experiencing is creating an economic hardship for them.

The reduction in requirement is that the student in question must only carry a minimum of 6 credits per semester! Stop and give some serious thought to a number of issues this raises.

First of all, Libya is a “Special Interest” country. This means that it is a country that is considered to be intrinsically involved with the sponsoring or terrorist organizations. Certainly not all Libyans are terrorists or even sympathetic to terrorists, however, how does the State Department distinguish those aliens who are supportive of terrorism from those who are not? We have seen numerous instances where aliens who were granted political asylum in our country, subsequently went on to commit acts of terrorism against the United States.

It is important to note that flaws in the visa program and the process by which aliens are provided with various immigration benefits also figured prominently in the terrorist attacks of 1993 nearly 19 years ago. In fact, I was called to provide testimony for the very first time on May 20 1997 before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims by the late Representative Henry Hyde who, at the time, chaired the House Judiciary Committee and Representative Lamar Smith who was, at that time, the Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee. Today, as you probably know, Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The topic of that hearing was:

VISA FRAUD AND IMMIGRATION BENEFITS APPLICATION FRAUD

Here is the link to the transcript of that hearing:

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju44195.000/hju44195_0f.htm

The predication for this hearing was the terrorist attacks that had been carried out more than four years earlier, in 1993 when in January of 1993 a Pakistani national by the name of Amir Kansi who had been granted political asylum even though he lied on his application. He repaid our nation’s kindness (and frankly, ineptitude) by opening fire on cars being driven into the CIA parking lot that winter morning with an AK-47 and killing 2 CIA officers and wounding 3 others. He fled from the United States, was located, arrested and brought back to the United States to stand trial for those murders and assaults and was found guilty and executed for his crimes- but his victims remained dead.

One month later, in February 1993 a terrorist attack at the World Trade Center involving the planting of a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center garage located under that once iconic complex left six victims dead, hundreds injured and an estimated 500 million dollars in damages inflicted on the complex that nearly caused one of the huge towers to topple sideways.

The terrorists involved in this attack had committed visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud in order to enter our country and/or embed themselves in our country.

Nearly 9 years ago, in March of 2002, I was called to provide testimony about two other “students” who had gamed the immigration system. There names were Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi. If their names are familiar it may be because they were two of the terrorists who participated in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here is the link to the C-SPAN video of the Congressional hearing conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, at which I testified on March 19, 2002 as you watch this video I want you to consider how much has not changed in the more than 9 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/165862

Topic for the hearing:

“INS’S MARCH 2002 NOTIFICATION OF APPROVAL OF CHANGE OF STATUS FOR PILOT TRAINING FOR TERRORIST HIJACKERS MOHAMMED ATTA AND MARWAN AL-SHEHHI”

Here is the link to the transcript of the hearing in its entirety

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju78298.000/hju78298_0f.htm

While we are on the topic of how terrorists have gamed the process by which visas are provided to students from foreign countries that enable them to enter the United States, we should also consider how often aliens engage in marriage fraud whereby they marry a United States citizen or resident alien in order to secure an Alien Registration Card (Green Card) that signifies that they have been granted lawful immigrant status and have been placed on the pathway to United States citizenship.

We should consider how many aliens have gamed the visa programs that provide temporary visas for foreign workers, who, contrary to the intention of the law, do indeed replace American and resident alien workers by accepting much lower wages and virtually no benefit packages. In fact, many times such “temporary workers” don’t even meet the qualifications to do the jobs they claim they will do and take on totally different jobs secure in the knowledge that ICE will have no interest in looking for them because of an abject lack of resources to conduct field investigations!

The GAO has issued numerous reports on various aspects of immigration benefit fraud and other failings of the immigration system. You can see a list of these reports at:

http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/locate?searched=1&order_by=rel&keyword=immigration%20fraud&search_type=publications&o=0&add_topic=&add_type=&add_year=&add_fed_type=&add_fed_desc=&add_year=2000%20-%202009

The obvious first concern is how students from Special Interest countries are being vetted when they apply for visas.

When you consider that not all citizens of Libya are happy to see the leader of that nation, Muammar Ghaddafi removed from power and their country suffer numerous military operations to seek Ghaddafi’s removal in which civilians are, unfortunately killed as a result of “collateral damage” it is clear that at least some of these students may have more than completing their studies on their minds as they go about their business inside the United States.

From a national security perspective I have serious misgivings about how this may ultimately play out. Furthermore it is important to know that the NSEERS program that requires aliens from certain countries that are of concern from a national security perspective to be registered by the DHS was recently suspended. You should know that Libya was on the list of countries that had been on the list of countries of concern.

Here is a link to a notice that was posted in December 2003 about this program:

http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0305.shtm

Now that we have considered the issue of the potential national security implications of the enrollment of students in our country from Libya, my next concern is the fact that the administration is now permitting such students to carry as few as 6 credit per semester to qualify to be considered full time students if they are experiencing financial hardship. For all other students a minimum of 12 credits are necessary for a student to be considered a “full time” student. This is also the standard for most universities. It is not unusual for a student to carry as many as 16 credits per semester.

Please consider what this means. A Libyan student who can demonstrate “economic hardship” can carry just 6 credits per semester and be authorized to work in the United States! This would give a clear advantage to Libyan students over other foreign students and especially United States citizen students who may also be suffering extreme economic hardship. Isn’t it amazing that every time a group of foreign nationals can demonstrate some sort of hardship they wind up with consideration not given to American children?

It is also entirely possible that companies seeking to reduce labor costs would hire such “students” rather than non-student US. citizen or resident alien workers without violating any of the laws that are supposed to protect the American workforce!

There are certain phrases that politicians know that they must say and that if they say certain magic words, everyone will love them! Here is a phrase that every politician must say:

“If I am elected I will make certain we will create many new jobs!”

I don’t care what the political orientation of the citizens of our nation- everyone absolutely wants new jobs to be created!

The obvious question that should be asked is, “Who will get those jobs?”

This change in policy will make it more likely that nonimmigrant students from Libya will get some of those jobs!

I am not mean spirited, but I am frustrated that in America, it seems increasingly that the term “Second class citizen” seems to have taken on an entire new meaning! (If you are a citizen- in this country, you are second class!)

Additionally, consider how long it would take a student to complete a Baccalaureate degree if that student only takes 12 credits per year and the curriculum may require the completion of 128 credits. If you are not a member of Congress and therefore you are able to do basic math, you can see that this would mean that such a “student” may take over ten years to complete his (her) course of study! Meanwhile these “students” could work in the United States and perhaps in that ten year period find some way of acquiring lawful immigrant status by, perhaps, marrying a United States citizen or resident alien. If such a marriage was a fraud marriage the likelihood that the fraud would be discovered is between slim and none!

How long will it be before the administration mandates that any foreign student who can demonstrate hardship will be similarly accommodated?

As citizens of this nation, we say a “Pledge of Allegiance” to the flag of our nation and to our nation itself. When will our “leaders” say a pledge of allegiance to the citizens who elected them to their jobs and also honor their oaths of office that imply that they will do what is in the best interests of our nation and our citizens? It is clear that this will never happen unless We the People get involved!

As potential candidates for the office of President begin to emerge and other candidates for other elected offices announce their intentions, it is absolutely essential that we do everything that we can to have our voices heard!

The effective enforcement and administration of our nation’s immigration laws are, arguably, among the most important of all missions that are supposed to be carried out by our federal government.

Nothing less than the security of our nation and safety of our citizens hang in the balance!

A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

If our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.

My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.

The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.

If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same. We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!

The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians. I implore you to get involved!

I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world. However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation!

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

ICE announces employment authorization eligibility for certain Libyan students

Michael Cutler, a former Senior INS Investigator, an expert witness in more than a dozen Congressional Hearings is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and an advisor to the ‘911 Families for a Secure America.’ He writes about the nexus between immigration and national security.