Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the number of Saudi Arabian students studying in the United States has jumped over 500%–climbing from 5,579 in the 2001-2002 school year up to 34,139 in 2011-2012.
Saudi national Hani Hanjour was in the U.S. on a student visa when he flew American Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Now, the Boston Marathon terrorist attack has raised new questions about whether America’s student visa program has grown too large and lax.
On Saturday, two foreign students here on student visas from Kazakhstan were arrested for allegedly violating their visas. According to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two students may have known Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev–the two ethnic Chechen terror suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
In a letter from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Paul suggested that the current immigration debate in Congress should consider taking “a hard look at student visas.” Paul asked, “Should we suspend student visas, or at least those from high-risk areas, pending an investigation into the national security implications of this program?”