The story of suspected New York Times Square terrorist Faisal Shahzad is unfolding and likely will continue to do so for weeks to come. Let’s make it clear up front that a lot of savvy, hard-working police officers and federal agents busted their butts to put this case together quickly. For that, the law enforcement troops deserve our thanks and gratitude. As the case becomes clear, however, some politicians and reporters are raising questions about how Shahzad almost got away. Those are legitimate questions, to be sure, but almost no one is raising questions about how he got here in the first place and why he was allowed to stay.
The role of the dysfunctional U.S. immigration visa system in Faisal Shahzad’s personal history may be a case study in why we have an unplugged hole in our so-called Homeland Security System. It is important to note Shahzad’s entry into the united States began with a foreign student visa. While there is no indication Shahzad was a foreign intelligence agent, the fact remains student visas are a favored tool of foreign spy services. This is not to say foreign spies here on student visas don’t attend school once they are here. Oh no. The campuses of our top research universities represent easy pickings for countries that lag the United States in technology and need a fast leg up.
Foreign students, who often pay top tuition rates, major in the so-called hard sciences necessary to build a high-tech military. Greedy universities use them as near slave-labor research assistants on cutting edge technology projects which are often paid for with federal tax-funded grants. The quid pro quo for submitting to abusive working conditions on our campuses is these “students” often have unfettered access to project research databases. They download petabytes of taxpayer-funded research findings and send them back to their homeland. Who needs career spies in trench coats when you can get most of the technical data you need for a modern, lethal military through unmonitored graduate students? Just ask Communist China. The “miracle” of China’s astonishingly rapid military modernization is no miracle at all. It is part of a systematic espionage campaign in which they have stolen boatloads of U.S. research from our top university campuses while everyone looked the other way.
Back to Faisal Shahzad. A reporter for the Connecticut Post found some of Shahzad’s discarded papers outside a residence he once owned in Shelton, Connecticut. (You are encouraged to the follow the link and explore the online photos of the documents.) The papers include a student transcript from the now-defunct Southeastern University in Washington, D.C. The school lost its accreditation. The transcript, which you can view online, is “peppered with Cs and Ds and even an F in one class, basic statistics,” the paper reported.
Somehow, despite his poor grades, Shahzad managed to transfer to a university in Connecticut where he was given a student financial grant. U.S. universities love having foreign students enrolled and move mountains to keep them in the student body. They enjoy financial perks often unavailable to American-born students. Shahzad studied marketing, according to a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student Status found among the discarded papers. Along the way Shahzad changed majors and received a degree in computer science.
This was good enough to game the immigration system to acquire an H1-B visa, a controversial designation which enables employers to hire “skilled” foreign nationals to fill positions where there aren’t sufficient U.S. citizen job applicants available. Shahzad went to work for a temporary employment agency and was assigned to work in a low-level clerical job at a cosmetics company. His “skill” as a foreign national was not evident or apparently required for this job. Shahzad married an American and eventually became a U.S. citizen before betraying his new country.
At every step of the way, this marginal foreign student, this less-than-skilled foreign worker, was not even given a cursory immigration system glance as he wormed his way in to the fabric of U.S. society. The American people need to understand the story of Faisal Shahzad is not unique and represents a serious flaw in the enforcement of the laws and regulations we already have in place.
The flood of illegals crossing our southern border is indeed a serious problem, but it is distracting citizen attention and wrath from deeper problems in our immigration system. The politically-appointed leaders of our immigration enforcement system understand it is not in their career interest to enact and enforce meaningful reforms. The party controlling the White House doesn’t matter. This is a bi-partisan screwing of the American people and it has been happening for a long time.
“Interior enforcement” – the tracking of people who come to the United States on visas or permits – is a persistent gap in our Homeland Security system. That was evident from the student visa scams of the hijackers in the 9/11 attack. It has been proven again in the case of Faisal Shahzad. It is a failure that we, the people, ignore at the nation’s peril.