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SLUG: 5-50193 Tracking Foreigners
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=09/24/01

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

TITLE= TRACKING FOREIGNERS

NUMBER=5-50193

BYLINE=LINDA CASHDAN

DATELINE=WASHINGTON

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: Evidence showing that most of the terrorists involved in the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington entered the United States legally - on student or tourist visas - is prompting a re-examination of U-S immigration and visa policies. Linda Cashdan has the details.

TEXT: There are foreign students and tourists and business travelers and those with special work permits. In total, immigration lawyer Carl Shusterman estimates, about 100 million foreigners enter the United States annually.

The number of those who linger on beyond their planned stay, he says, is anybody's guess.

/// SHUSTERMAN ACT ///

Supposedly the date they (foreigners) come into the U-S and the date they're supposed to leave is entered into a computer system. But I really don't think the immigration service has the capability and the number of people they need to see if they left on time.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Shusterman says terrorist acts always create pressure for changing the system. He points to the 1979, when Iranians took over the U-S Embassy in Tehran, as an example.

/// SHUSTERMAN ACT ///

The same questions were brought up then because there were all these Iranian students in the United States who were not going to school any more. They (the government) put all sorts of systems in place to try to track students. You can see they really didn't work, because the number of students 20 years later dwarfs what we had in the late seventies.

/// END ACT ///

Louise Krumm directs an English language program for foreign students at Georgetown University. Aside from personally placing every graduating student on a plane home, she says, there is no way of assuring those on student visas leave the country on time.

She is concerned about recent calls for a tracking system aimed at students, saying such a program might discourage foreigners from studying in the United States.

/// KRUMM ACT ///

Last year there were over half a million students that came to study, and they bring 12 point three billion dollars into the United States (economy), and this is a very negative message to them.

/// END ACT ///

In the same way, Carl Shusterman says, a national system that tracks every foreigner would greatly curb tourism.

/// SHUSTERMAN ACT ///

If we really tracked everybody, we would be a lot more like the Soviet Union. If a tourist group came over they could not go out for a bite to eat unless they checked with the Intourist guide. I guess it could be done, but we would be living in a far different country if these measures went into place.

/// END ACT ///

There is safety and then there is freedom, Carl Shusterman says. Despite the concerns prompted by the recent terrorist attacks, he says, most Americans are unwilling to sacrifice freedom for safety. (signed)

NEB/KBK



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