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Closing a Visa Loophole

A bipartisan compromise in the Senate to various pieces of legislation on border security post-Sept. 11 mostly strikes a good balance, especially when it comes to issuing visas to the half-million foreign students in the US.

This week's federal crackdown in San Diego, resulting in the arrest of 10 students, allegedly for visa abuse (overstays, or not enrolled in school), clearly revealed gaps in the immigration system.

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The bill would require colleges to report foreign students who arrive on student visas and whether they actually attend class. Students from one of the seven countries currently cited by the State Department as sponsors of terrorism can expect thorough background checks, but the legislation does not include Egypt or Saudi Arabia, countries where two of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers came from.

Straightening out the variety of uneven immigration rules and keeping better track of students as they enjoy the benefits of a US education makes sense. Of course, loopholes will remain closed only if schools comply, and the bill would mandate periodic review by immigration officials.

Still, the deal worked out tightens the net, without building a wall.


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