Tighten the student visa program

November 18, 2006|by Robert Gary

I recently saw a picture of the 11 young men from Egypt on student visas who went missing in New York and the Department of Homeland Security does not know where all of them are.

The question came to mind: "Why are these young Egyptian males in the U.S. in the first place?"

Then I remembered that it would really have a negative impact on the bottom line of a lot of our colleges and universities if some radical changes were made eliminating the student visas for young men from Muslim nations.

Foreigners visit the U.S. as guests of the president. He has the ultimate say on who gets to come here and who doesn't. Foreign nationals have no civil rights for the simple reason that they are not part of our civil society. That's why they are called visitors, and need visas.

It has been said that the U.S. benefits from having a large student visa program even with Muslim nations, even with nations whose nationals have in the past committed acts of terror on our soil. The reasoning is that they will come here, see what a free society is like, get to know us better, as we will get to know them and understand them. And then the world will be a better and more peaceful place.


Somehow, a few years of college or graduate school in the U.S. will have such a powerful effect on their minds, values and consciences that the first 12 years of life in a Madrassa and the next six in an al Qaida training camp will simply fade into nothingness.

Any hatred that they may have had for the Great Satan will dissolve in the course of a few years on one of our college or university campuses.

That might be true if they didn't blow us up in their first year here. Or on their way here.

The next evolution after the explosives in the drink containers will be explosives in latex containers placed in body cavities, just the way the drug dealers do. One latex container can hold about one ounce of Semtex. So eight latex containers can hold about half a pound of Semtex. Even accounting for the attenuation factor because of the body being there the blast wave from half a pound of Semtex is at least 10 times what would be needed to bring down a jetliner. The detonator could be a cell phone, or any device capable of generating an RF signal. The receiver would be in the latex containers along with the Semtex.

We pay $300 billion a year for the Princeton/Harvard/Yale types at DHS to think of these things, but they don't. They only think of how they can make a big theatrical presentation of their reaction to what's already happened - the shoe bomber - so everybody takes off their shoes - the drink container bombers - so no liquids allowed in carry-on bags on planes - you see always looking backwards - making an opera of their responsiveness, but in fact having no preparedness. Al Qaida is imaginative, innovative, creative, suicidal and totally committed. How can this mismatch be mitigated?

By stopping the student visa program and all other visa-granting to persons from nations that have had terrorist citizens unless there is a very direct, immediate, and well-defined benefit to the U.S. and to its citizens from having a specific foreign Moslem individual here for a specified period of time.

For example, a visit by an oil minister to testify before Congress or to meet with the Secretary of Energy, or a visit by an ambassador to serve his or her term in Washington representing a foreign nation, or an Ambassador to the U.N., or a trade representative, or a treaty negotiator. The idea here is that the clear, direct and immediate benefit to the U.S. and its citizens is huge enough to justify the risk of having this specific individual in the country for a specified period of time. The risk/benefit equation works in our favor immediately and obviously.

We could speak of many things - but in the end, my friend, cows don't have wings. The student visa program does not fly as a moral, intelligent, and responsible piece of policy given the facts of world history in the last 10 years.

It should be terminated as it applies to persons who pose an unknowable or unreasonable risk to the security of the U.S. and who bring no corresponding clear and present, well-defined or concrete benefit to the table with them as they propose to come here.

If it's just a matter of cultivating goodwill, the answer has got to be "no" because only the living can have goodwill.

Life - right here, right now - takes precedence over abstract hazy dreams about the remote and uncertain future. Moral presidents do the right thing. They give U.S. citizens their rights. Duty, honor, country come first.

Robert Gary is a retired attorney who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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