NAFSA Statement Correcting the Record on Student Visas
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2013 - During yesterday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano engaged in a colloquy on immigration reform that contained a misstatement of the visa status of the 9/11 hijackers. This historical inaccuracy is being repeated in news accounts of the hearing.
Contrary to what Graham and Napolitano stated, none of the 9/11 hijackers held expired student visas. In fact, 18 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked airplanes on September 11, 2001, had entered the United States legally on tourist or business visas. Only one had entered the United States on a student visa. This information was exhaustively documented by the 9/11 Commission in its supplemental report, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel, which provides a detailed chronology of each attacker’s visa status and entry to the United States. The report states plainly: “Hani Hanjour was the only hijacker to arrive on an academic visa.” DHS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service before it, and the Government Accountability Office, among others, have confirmed this fact on numerous occasions.
Misstating the facts misleads the American public. The reality is that international students are an asset to our nation, not a threat to security.