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In Wake of Terror Attacks New Scrutiny for Students
by Carl R. Baldwin

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America have sent shock waves through the country. Reactions include pressure to closely scrutinize student admissions in the future.

The hijackers were not persons who “entered without inspection” by crossing the border with Canada or Mexico. They entered legally as nonimmigrants, apparently tourists or students, and then fell out of status by staying longer than permitted by the INS or by never showing up for their studies. But their fall out of status was not detected by the INS and therefore deportation proceedings, which were sorely needed in these cases, were never commenced against them. Students, at least, will be more carefully monitored in the future. According to an October 8, 2001 article in the internet journal called Wired News, “Government officials who want personal information about foreign students attending schools in the United States will soon be able to get such data with the click of a mouse.” The article, which is well researched, is at,1383,447353,00.html The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which contained some provisions that were highly prejudicial to immigrants and citizens, had the very good idea of creating a data base that would store information about international students. The tracking system, called Students Exchange Visitor Information, will begin at 12 schools in the Boston area this month (October, 2001). (Could that choice be related to the fact that two of the hijacked planes took off from the Boston airport?) The tracking system will be nationwide by 2003. An influential group that advises foreign students, The Association of International Educators (NAFSA), had initially opposed the idea of a data base, as “an unreasonable barrier to foreign students who seek legitimately to pursue their higher education in the United States, and an unnecessary reporting burden on colleges and universities.” After September 11, however, they sensibly withdrew their opposition.

A bona fide foreign student who is in proper status will, I imagine, be perfectly willing and happy to cooperate with the functioning of the data base. And the colleges and universities will, in the interest of safety for students and everybody else, be willing to bear the reporting burden.

About The Author

Carl R. Baldwin graduated from Columbia University Law School in 1980, and became a member of the New York State Bar a year later. He worked for three years with the New York City Law Department, and then entered solo practice in immigration law, which he has continued to the present. His work with clients has included asylum applications, deportation defense, visa processing, adjustment of status, and naturalization. He has also worked to implement special laws, such as the 1986 "amnesty" (The Immigration Reform and Control Act), and the 1998 Haitian reform act (The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act). Mr. Baldwin is the author of Immigration News Monthly. He can be reached by e-mail at

He has written a book on immigration law, called "Immigration Questions and Answers," 1997, Allworth Press, 10 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010 (212) 777-8395. The book, which contains essential background information about how the immigration law works, can be ordered in both an English Edition and a Spanish version from