(WASHINGTON) — The Boston Marathon bombings exposed holes in the student visa program the Department of Homeland Security is moving to fix.
Effective immediately, customs agents have been told to verify that every arriving foreign student has permission to study in this country. It’s a reform one law enforcement official says the Department of Homeland Security has been working on for months.
“Customs and border patrol agents, they do have access to databases,” said ABC News consultant and former FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett. “Now, perhaps they didn’t run them. Perhaps the database wasn’t updated.”
“There may be a number of reasons why they didn’t catch that his visa had expired,” Garrett said.
The instruction comes the same week it was learned a college friend of the surviving marathon bomb suspect returned to the U.S. in January without a valid student visa. Azamat Tazhayakov was one of three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends arrested for slowing down the marathon bombing investigation.
Garrett said, “If nothing else, based on this case, they are going to have to put more energy in who is legitimately going to school and who is not.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Morgan Loew, CNN
Eric Levenson, Devon Sayers and Jamiel Lynch, CNN
Betsy Klein, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN