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Argument: Student visa programs can be improved to limit national security holes

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Supporting quotes from the Economist Debate Series

  • Frances Cairncross. The Economist Debate Series. The Proposition’s Rebuttal. December 14th, 2007 - "But what about the point that student visas are 'ideal cover for terrorists, criminals and other young, unattached people who would not otherwise qualify for entry'? Well, it’s certainly true that a student visa is usually the easiest way for a foreigner to enter a country – much easier than having to marry someone of the right nationality or hide in the back of a truck. But that is not an argument against educating foreign students. It’s a powerful argument against having a sloppy student-visa scheme, and not policing it properly after students arrive. George Borjas, the economist that Ms Vaughan quotes, wrote some vitriolic attacks in 2002 on the way the system then worked. 'There are only 4,000 colleges and 6,000 state-accredited vocational schools in the United States, but around 73,000 institutions have the authority to accept foreign students,' he said. 'The list of INS-approved institutions include not only Harvard and MIT, but also beauty schools, flight schools, and such exotic places as the Asian American Acupuncture University in San Diego, the Nash Academy of Animal Arts (a pet-grooming school) in New Jersey, and the American Nanny College in Los Angeles.' Small wonder that the occasional terrorist slips through a net as full of holes as that one."

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