Schumer calls for student visa probe

Neighbors of an alleged would-be bomber living in Jamaica, Queens, react after Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, a 21-year-old Bangladeshi national, was arrested on accusations of plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Manhattan. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Oct. 17, 2012)

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The State Department's inspector general should investigate how a Bangladeshi national arrested in a New York City terrorist sting operation was granted the student visa that enabled him to live and study here, Sen. Charles Schumer said Thursday.

"He didn't sneak across the border or even come across on a tourist visa," Schumer said. "He got a student visa."

Schumer (D-N.Y.) also called for a Department of Homeland Security investigation into Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis' request for transfer of his school records from Southeast Missouri State University, asking whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should have denied that request.

Nafis, 21, was enrolled as a full-time student, seeking a bachelor of science in cybersecurity, at the university in Cape Girardeau, Mo., during the spring semester. He moved to Jamaica, Queens, and transferred in early October to ASA College in New York, briefly attending the business and computer technology school's Manhattan campus.

Schumer, at a news conference at his Manhattan office, said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Missouri university, but pointed to what he called loopholes in the student visa system.

Homeland Security spokesman Dan Cosgrove said he could not comment. A call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not immediately returned.

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Long Island public and private universities say they comply with all federal regulations.

"Sometimes they're just homesick and they need someone to talk to," said Lorraine Greenwald, dean of international education and programs at Farmingdale State College, which currently serves 122 international students.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) is among 19 co-sponsors of a House bill that aims to improve student visa security. The measure would increase monitoring of students, both in the application process and during their studies in the United States.

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King is also calling for greater scrutiny of students in certain academic fields such as cybersecurity, and those involving radioactive materials.

Schumer this summer introduced legislation for increased oversight following a congressional investigation of so-called "sham universities." Reports indicated that Tri-Valley University in California sold student visas to 1,500 students it did not plan to educate. A Government Accountability Office report subsequently showed the problem was widespread.

Student visas would be used only to attend accredited schools under the proposed legislation. Background checks of school officials involved with the visa process would be required.

With Joseph Mallia, Olivia Winslow and Joie Tyrrell

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