This month, the Biden administration withdrew a Trump administration Department of Homeland Security regulation that was designed to protect Americans from violent Islamic terrorists or Chinese spies who use their student visas to stay in the United States.
On July 6, the Biden administration withdrew Proposed Rule 2020-20845, which spoke of the threat from Chinese spies and Islamic terrorists as it attempted to monitor the status of student visa holders in the United States. The rule, proposed by the Trump administration DHS in September 2020, would have required student visa holders to “renew them every two or four years and to check that they are still in good standing at universities.”
Todd Bensman of Townhall noted:
The most valuable part of the process would have had DHS agents conduct eyeball-to-eyeball interviews with renewal applicants. The agents also would collect biometric information, spot-check progress at academic institutions, and double-check that original claimed purposes remained valid. This periodic regimen would have made sure not only that F-1 visa holders from those countries were keeping their end of the bargain but provide opportunities for suspicious activity referrals to the FBI.
He added, “In its official explanation, the Biden administration pointed out that 99 percent of those who commented on the regulation – a great many of them likely the affected foreigners, school administrators, and exchange visitor programs – just didn’t want to go through all the bothersome rigmarole for their generous host nation’s security interests. The regulation, opponents most frequently complained, ‘would significantly burden’ them with extra cost and time, would discriminate based on nationality, and would deny them access to ‘immigration benefits.’”
The Trump administration DHS proposal stated:
Currently, aliens in the F, J, and I categories are admitted into the United States for the period of time that they are complying with the terms and conditions of their nonimmigrant category (“duration of status”), rather than an admission for a fixed time period. This duration of status framework generally lacks predetermined points in time for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration officers to directly evaluate whether F, J, and I nonimmigrants are maintaining their status and poses a challenge to the Department’s ability to effectively monitor and oversee these categories of nonimmigrants. renew them every two or four years and to check that they are still in good standing at universities.
… they are often are able to avoid accrual of unlawful presence for purposes of statutory inadmissibility grounds of unlawful presence, in part, because they do not file applications or petitions, such as extension of stay, that would result in a formal finding. The Department accordingly is concerned about the integrity of the programs and a potential for increased risk to national security. To address these issues, DHS proposes to amend its regulations by changing the admission period of F, J, and I aliens from duration of status to an admission for a fixed time period.
The proposal pointed out, “To extend their stay, these aliens enrolled in consecutive educational programs, transferred to new schools, or repeatedly requested DSOs to extend their program end dates.”
The proposal stated: “According to a December 2018 report by a panel of experts commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study foreign influence on federally-funded scientific research, ‘Small numbers of scientists have committed serious violations of NIH’s policies and systems by not disclosing foreign support (grants), laboratories, or funded faculty positions in other countries.’ There are multiple examples of these ongoing national security threats.”
DHS proposes a maximum admission period of up to 2 years for certain students. … This period is based on factors that DHS identified as involving national security and public safety concerns, with the goal of encouraging compliance with immigration laws. They are: Aliens who were born in or are citizens of countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List.
There are currently four countries designated as a state sponsor of terrorism under these authorities: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Under this proposal, DHS anticipates admitting those who were born in or are citizens of those countries for a maximum period of up to 2 years. The Department believes it is appropriate to apply additional scrutiny on those born in these countries and citizens of these countries who are temporarily studying in the United States to ensure that these aliens do not pose risks to the national security of the United States.