GAO Report Targets Sham Universities; Senate Making Noise about Changes

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

August 30, 2012

Like many of her Democratic Congressional colleagues, this summer Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) trailed in re-election polling. McCaskill lagged several points behind challenger U.S. Rep. Todd Akin until he made his outrageous remark that “legitimate” rape rarely causes pregnancy. Despite his offensive, crude and inaccurate comment, Akin steadfastly refuses to withdraw.  Akin’s support has dramatically eroded. In July Akin led McCaskill by 11 points; today, he’s 17 points behind. [McCaskill Leads Akin in Missouri Senate Race, New Poll Shows, by Sean Sullivan, Washington Post, August 25, 2012]

From a patriotic immigration reform perspective, the race between McCaskill and Akin is unusual. McCaskill has shown signs of understanding the correlation between over-immigration and American job loss; Akin is one of the highest rated on the NumbersUSA grade card system.

Recently, McCaskill spoke out forcefully to urge Congress to take immediate steps to end sham universities. As an example, California’s Tri-Valley University enrolled more than 1,500 foreign students until a federal investigation exposed the school as a fraud. At the direction of President Susan Xiao-Ping Su, school officials unsuspectingly gave F-1 student visas to undercover agents, posing as foreign nationals, who as part of the sting said they had no intention of attending school. Tri Valley students, mostly from India and China, paid $5,400 per semester in tuition to obtain the visas until the school was shut down. [Read my March, 2011 CAPS column about the Tri Valley scandal here.]

Acting on a July 24th Government Accountability Office report indicating that Department of Homeland Security oversight failures have allowed unqualified students and possible terrorists to enter the country, McCaskill announced her intention to beef up the Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP). Read the GAO report here.

McCaskill, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), plan to introduce the Student Visa Integrity Act which would criminalize materially false statements or providing incorrect information when petitioning foreign students. The bill would also limit the SEVP program to accredited schools, a status that Tri Valley didn’t have.

In her July 25 statement, McCaskill said:

"Sham universities knowingly commit fraud, jeopardize our nation's security and abuse an otherwise worthy visa program. For too long these institutions have broken the law and gotten away with it, but it's time to put the proper safeguards in place to ensure their schemes have consequences. This bipartisan legislation is another step in working to fully secure our nation's borders and keep our communities safe."

Whether McCaskill’s effort is sincere or a vote-getting maneuver isn’t clear. But either way, more diligence in exposing bogus universities and their craven owners is welcome. Ditto for the students who mock U.S. immigration law and cheat the system. They should be banned from attending any other university, deported and forfeit whatever money they have invested schemes that are obviously fraudulent.

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