Judicial Watch • Fake Students Get U.S. Visas Like 9/11 Hijackers

Fake Students Get U.S. Visas Like 9/11 Hijackers

Fake Students Get U.S. Visas Like 9/11 Hijackers

MARCH 05, 2010

The U.S. government claims it restricted the nation’s fraud-infested student visa program after the 9/11 hijackers exploited it to plan their attack yet a south Florida language school has just been busted for easily tricking immigration officials into granting hundreds of visas to foreign nationals who posed as students.

Practically none of the 200 foreigners who got the visas ever attended the hokey Florida Language Institute in each of the past three years and most remain at large somewhere in the U.S. Besides presenting an obvious national security threat, this violates laws enacted after the 2001 terrorist attacks to reform the notoriously unregulated and corrupt student visa program.

Several of the 9/11 terrorists entered and lived in the U.S. with student visas and one of the attackers had enrolled—but never attended—a northern California language school similar to the one shut down by federal authorities in Florida this week. Others had enrolled at various aviation schools throughout the country.  

The State Department vowed to clean up and heavily monitor the foreign student visa program, but nearly a decade later, that clearly hasn’t occurred. Examples abound in the last few years and the most recent case in Florida illustrates the government’s deplorable negligence. 

Eighty of the fake students have been arrested by immigration authorities and will likely be deported, but at least 120 are still at large and investigators say they are trying to determine what the foreigners are doing in the U.S. They come from various countries, including Turkey, Syria, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Indonesia, south and Central America. 

In other alarming cases, a Pakistani man indicted in Houston for aiding the Taliban and training with firearms for jihad against Americans, entered the U.S. with a student visa. He remained in the country long after the visa expired, became heavily involved in Texas Muslim groups and completed weapons and reconnaissance training at various area locations to terrorize Americans.

In the same month an admissions clerk in the nation’s largest public university system got caught accepting bribes to fast track foreign students’ applications, many from the Middle East. The woman worked at one of the biggest schools within the California State University system, which has 23 campuses, a total enrollment of about half a million students and a faculty of 46,000. 

Who could forget when 11 young Egyptian men disappeared in 2007 after arriving in the U.S. with student visas to attend an English program in Montana? Ages 18-22, the men landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport before vanishing. Incompetent federal authorities downplayed the seriousness of their failure to locate the men for more than a month. 

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