DHS team bounced 200 at borders

DHS team bounced 200 at borders

The Homeland Security Department denied entry this year to 200 foreigners who attempted to enter the country as students, undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security Directorate Asa Hutchinson said today.

"We believe they posed a risk to America," he said.

Using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, which tracks foreign students, the directorate's response team rejected the applicants, Hutchinson told attendees at a conference held by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"The team responded to more than 8,000 calls," Hutchinson said.

In some cases, schools that the foreigners claimed they were attending had no record of them, and in others the students had been expelled.

SEVIS has come under fire for system problems, with congressional hearings and a General Accounting Office report revealing malfunctions.

Hutchinson said the directorate has worked with schools to correct the problems. About 800,000 individuals are recorded in SEVIS and the system processed entry by about 300,000 students for the academic year that began in September.

The directorate plans to issue a regulation imposing a $100 fee on foreigners who register with SEVIS for the first time, Hutchinson said. DHS officials expect the fee to generate more than $30 million annually. Congress provided $36 million to the Immigration and Naturalization Service'now part of DHS'to start SEVIS but did not provide continuing funding.

"We had two options," Hutchinson said. "We could put the burden on taxpayers or on the people who receive the benefit."

(Corrected 9:53 a.m. Oct. 23, 2003)

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