The 18 men and nine women were arrested by ICE HSI's Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU) which is a national program designed to prevent terrorists and other criminals from exploiting the nation's immigration system. CTCEU also reviews the immigration status of known and suspected terrorists, combats criminal exploitation of the student and exchange visitor visa system, and leverages ICE HSI's investigative expertise to identify national security threats.
"One of the lessons learned from 9-11 was the importance of screening, tracking and enforcing the student visa program in the United States," said Alysa Erichs, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Dallas. "ICE HSI oversees this important program, and our Dallas-area agents made these recent arrests as part of these enforcement efforts."
Those arrested are from the following countries: Nepal (7), Kenya (6), Pakistan (6), Mexico (4), and once each for India, Kazakhstan, Peru and Turkey. They were encountered in the following north Texas cities: Arlington, Blue Mound, Dallas, Euless, Grand Prairie, Irving, Justin, Richardson, Plano and The Colony. They all were processed for immigration removal proceedings.
In addition to their immigration violations, two of those arrested had falsely claimed U.S. citizenship, which is a felony and results in being permanently barred from legally re-entering the United States.
The 11-day operation ended Aug. 26. One of those arrested was a flight student who failed to attend his flight school. Twelve of those arrested overstayed their visitor's visa; nine overstayed or violated the terms of their student visas. One exchange student who overstayed his visa was also arrested.
The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) acts as the bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on foreign students. SEVP helps the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State monitor school and exchange programs and F (academic), M (vocational) and J (exchange) category visitors. SEVP administers the F and M visa categories, while the Department of State manages the J exchange visitor program.
SEVP uses the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a web-based solution, to track and monitor schools and programs, students, exchange visitors and their dependents while approved to participate in the U.S. education system.
SEVP collects, maintains and provides the information so that only legitimate foreign students or exchange visitors gain entry to the United States. The result is an easily accessible information system that provides timely information to the Department of State, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and ICE.