"Sham" Universities Under Fire
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A new target in the battle against illegal immigration has come under scrutiny-colleges and universities. According to five Democratic U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein (Ca), Bill Nelson (Fl), Claire McCaskill (Mo), John Tester (Mn), and Charles Schumer (Ny), these "sham" universities are fronts for smuggling in immigrants on student visas, handing out tickets into the country for potential terrorists and criminals. These for-profit front institutions gain qualifications with the U.S. government through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to petition for student visas but they don't actually offer classes, only a pathway to U.S. residency.
Senators Feinstein, Nelson, McCaskill, and Schumer
In a letter released to the media, Senators Feinstein, Nelson, McCaskill, and Schumer said, "Sham universities are not real institutions of higher learning, but rather operate solely for the purpose of manipulating immigration law to admit foreign nationals into the country. When the student visa program can be manipulated by bad actors, it threatens the viability of the entire program for the large majority of bona fide participants." The senators attacked the penalties for student visa fraud, or lack thereof, saying in their letter, "The existing penalties for student visa fraud are simply too low to deter bad actors who can reap large rewards by operating for-profit sham universities and charging foreigners thousands of dollars to come to the U.S." Furthermore, the senators proposed stiffer consequences for said sham universities and said, "These new penalties will assist you in obtaining justice for the bad actors who compromise the system."
Bogus Universities are Compromising Overall National Security
Much of the senators' outrage comes from the fact that some of the perpetrators of the 9-11 World Trade Center attacks had come to the U.S. on student visas. The senators fear that bogus universities are compromising overall national security. Sen. Schumer called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to immediately crackdown on fake for-profit schools. Moreover, these four senators have called on DHS and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to share whatever information they have so as to effectively target and shut down fraudulent universities. Under these senators' proposal, DHS and USCIS will identify "high risk" schools and investigate those schools presenting "high risk" information or the lack of proper information. Three schools in the Houston area have already been shut down. This is nothing new to immigration authorities, however, and in 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement shut down Centurion Professional Training, Inc. in Brooklyn, New York and Career Education International Group, Inc. in Manhattan. Many more fake educational institutions are currently under investigation from California to Florida. The variety of methods by which illegal immigrants make it into the U.S. is alarming. And the level of sophistication used to attain that goal has become rather impressive. It a testament to the high demand for residency within U.S. borders. Contrary to what these five senators say, we are dealing with some very good actors indeed, people who can effectively fool Homeland Security into qualifying them to petition for student visas, which they get, and give to seemingly anyone who is willing to pay for them, including terrorists.