ABC News reports that the Department of Homeland Security lost track of, and is now pursuing, over 6,000 foreign students who are deemed to be of “heightened concern.” DHS told ABC that about 58,000 foreign students had overstayed their visa but the vast majority are not being sought.
The student visa program has been plagued with problems for years. Congress targeted the program for reform after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The hijacker who flew a plane into the Pentagon had entered the country on a student visa but did not attend school.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told ABC, “They just disappear…They get the visas and they disappear.” He said 26 student visa holders were arrested on terror-related charges since Sept. 11, 2001.
ABC reports that more than 9,000 schools are on the government-approved list for hosting foreign students. Schools are supposed to track the whereabouts of visa holders, and report to DHS if they repeatedly miss class, but not all do. “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 Sen. Coburn. “To me, it’s a mess.”
ABC notes one school -- MicroPower Career Institute – that has four campuses on the approved list, even though five of the school’s top officials were indicted on visa fraud charges.
The Center for Immigration Studies’ Janice Kephart told ABC “When schools are not legitimate that enables 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 because the system itself will say they're here legitimately when in fact they're not.”
The General Accounting Office says the number of foreign students in the U.S. grew from about 663,000 in 2003 to more than 1.2 million in 2012.
Read more at ABC News.
Updated: Mon, May 15th 2017 @ 5:00pm EDT