Government Losing Track of Foreign Students

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Posted: May 19, 2010 10:16 AM
TAMPA, FL -- Thousands of international students come to Tampa Bay to study at area colleges and universities every year.  Nearly one hundred thousand come to the U.S. from abroad.  While the vast majority are here to learn, there have been increased efforts to keep an eye on foreign students since 9/11.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) was created after 9/11 because several of the hijackers who entered the U.S. did so using student visas. It's a database run by the Department of Homeland Security meant to keep track of every foreign student issued a visa that comes to the U.S...

The need is obvious.  To prevent what the 9/11 hijackers were able to do; enter the U.S. under false pretenses and fall off the radar screen...

Congressman Gus Bilirakis is a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.  

"That's what happens.  They come over here on student visas and they drop out of school and then you never hear from them again," said Bilirakis.

How often does that happen?  An ABC Action News investigation found since the program began, thousands of foreign students have left U.S. schools before graduation but not left the U.S.  And in many cases, the Department of Homeland Security has not tracked them down.

Full investigative story from ABC