King: Customs was not equipped to monitor student visas
May 5th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
2 years ago

King: Customs was not equipped to monitor student visas

(CNN) – Customs officials have not had the technology to determine whether foreign students entering the United States were in compliance with their visas, Rep. Peter King, former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

"There should be a way to correct this. The problem (officials) will tell you is there are 850,000 student visas, and there's an I-20 form which certifies whether or not that person is still in compliance with the requirements of the visa," said King, R-New York. "And unfortunately, it does not appear the technology is there to marry them up, and I think it's inexcusable."

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security began ordering U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to verify, "effective immediately," that every foreign student who wants to enter the United States has a valid student visa.

The order came after it was discovered that two friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who are now charged in connection with the attack, may have been in the country on student visas that were no longer valid.

Now, everyone coming in with a student visa will be "stopped and checked and examined at the airport," King said, a change that could cause longer lines at passport control desks.

"I think that's something we have to do to enforce this," he told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

King said two different government agencies - U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement - regulate two separate forms, one that shows the student has a student visa and one that shows whether or not the student is in compliance with the visa. But there was not a way to link the two, he said.

"Homeland Security should have been working more effectively toward making this technologically feasible…It has to be done – it is finally going to be done."

– CNN's Melissa Gray contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. rs

    Three points, Mr. King while you politicize a tragedy:
    1. Who gutted most of the agencies you are now blaming?
    2. These people were't just foreign student. No, sir, you forget their acquired citizenship, ergo, they are no different than you or I in the eyes of the law.
    3. Isn't it you sir who once supported the IRA?

    The GOP is clearly an illness.

    May 5, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    What are universities doing??? Making money?? Idiots. Karma.

    May 5, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Pete

    Federal customs or immigration has never fully had anything technical in keeping up with the influx of immigrents legal or not across America except for E Verify..Immigration or ICE handle much of it but even in Florida where its previlent they're short handed and are always behind the eight ball as immigrents run rampant across most of these southern states now calling home because they blend in and are protected by the countrymen that came before them...More strengent measures have to be employed if we're going to curb this outbreak of illegals from all parts of this world and it won't come cheap and has to be don't now or face the costlier problem again later!!

    May 5, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  4. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Well ,fix it Mr king and stop your obstruction of every thing important that comes along to make Obama look bad ,when the whole country knows its the gop that is the problem . The gop will lose the house and senate in 2014 mid terms ,I can't wait to vote the gop out ,all of them ,state and local !!!!!

    May 5, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Diane

    You have got to be kidding us! One clerk with a computer could solve this problem! The real problem is we left it to the government bureaucracy to handle. This incompetency has got to stop!

    May 5, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. Ray E. (Georgia)

    At least since 911 there should have been a system in place to Log in and Log out foreign visitors to the U.S., including "Students" There should ba an adequate charge, paid by the vistor's, etc, not Taxpayers to run the system, Program. Sometimes I wonder if the Keystone Cops are running the country. You want a country?, You better start taking care of it.

    May 5, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. pjbess57

    So maybe this seems a bit basic, but if the Universities want Non-American students to fill their coffers they need to pay for the program that links each of their registrars offices to the government- on a daily basis. If the student does not ATTEND – not simply be enrolled, then immigration gets a notice that in turn sends it to the local police. To go one step further, if the student is "absent" for more than three days – just like a job – a red flag goes up and someone goes looking for them. Sorry, do not want to hear about manpower...hire someone. The rules need to be fair. If you get into the US on a premise, you need to keep that status or you are out – and stay out!

    May 5, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. timvervba

    I still did not catch whether Mr King was proposing legislation that would procure the necessary technologies, or if he was going to exert addition oversight to assure that the appropriate agencies are properly managing visas, or if he was just talking out the side of his armpits to no real affect.

    May 5, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Carol

    Universities have been reporting on international students. Notifying DHS through a database called SEVIS for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, the Government seems unable to use the information effectively.

    May 5, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Rep. Peter King needs to understand you get what you pay for , Customs , Department of home land security , department of corrections , not the best and the brightest , low wage .

    King always barks like a bulldog , yet he never dose anything . King and Issa can't handle the truth , endless grandstanding with no solutions .

    May 5, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. plain&simple

    It takes MONEY to install technology . It takes the effort of working as an American to make the government work for the benefit of the people. Not your own!!!

    May 5, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. andi lee

    Wait a minute! I just read an article where our gvt. is setting aside $150 mil. tax america's hard earned cash, for immigration citizenship, $74 million for the 28 acre embassy grounds in Belgium, $74 million to the bombers homeland! What the hell? If I read correctly, it says, who WANT to come to the states, not those who are already here. BTW, what happened to the Saudi National, who was in Boston, yet had a school visa for another state, and never enrolled? Where IS HE??? Why are we being lied to? Call your congressman, get involved, before it is too late!

    May 5, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    Mr King,
    You have no idea what you are talking about .
    I suggest you apply for a H1B visa and let it expire.
    Then try to get re-admitted to US if its expired.
    First off the University will kick you out and immigration wont let you in.
    As an HR guy for students I have had to deal with students who forgot the necessary. OMG you would not believe the paperwork, explanations tiresome phone calls etc and OMG four times that hassle if you were a student from a Muslim majority country.
    Hello I thought republicans were for small government... what you propose is another layer costing more and does not improve effectiveness but does add to costs. That as HR in a university I, we sort out with Immigration and Homeland. No need for more expensive checks an balances.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    May 6, 2013 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  14. Justin

    Lack of money isn't the issue here... Having spent a good part of my life working for the government, I'd say each waste around... 60-70% of their budget. The issue as always in regards to government is lack of accountability, and incompetence.

    Anyone that thinks lack of money is an issue...

    May 6, 2013 06:15 am at 6:15 am |