ICE's College Unit Produces Kindergarten-Level Quarterly Report

By David North on February 4, 2014

There is a little-discussed arm of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) which controls the widely used foreign student programs, mostly involving graduate students.

It has just issued another of its quarterly reports which looks like it had been designed for third graders – except there is no box of crayons accompanying it.

This is a shame because the agency, the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), plays (or could play) an important role in the control of immigration, handling as it does more than a million aliens at any given time.

The report is laid out along the lines of a child's coloring book, in the landscape format, as opposed to portrait. It is short, all of 18 pages, and at least four of those pages are devoted to titles of sections and to the table of contents. It is printed in black and various shades of blue which are often hard to interpret if you work with a black and white printer – I guess the assumption is that all who read it will use a color printer. Does everyone at DHS have access to a color printer?

There is not a single word on the very real challenges the agency handles – such as visa mills and students who drop out of legal status – but lots of maps and bland numbers, like how many F and M visa students are in some of the states. (F nonimmigrants are in academic institutions, while the smaller numbers of M nonimmigrants are in vocational or religious educational institutions.)

There are a few numbers but lots of charts and maps. There is virtually no text, and the few words are in large type.

Another irritating feature is the lack of any seasonal-adjustments to the data; while education is not as seasonal as, say, the Christmas-tree business, it does have its up and down cycles, notably slow summers. What are we to make of the statement that:

"...the total volume of data ... continues to grow. However, since October 2013 the number of ... records for active nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors and the dependents has decreased 2.4% ..."

Does this mean that we are getting fewer foreign students? Or that more of them have fallen into illegal status? Or does it mean that there is a seasonal difference between January and October numbers? Don't look to this document for answers.

If you are going to do statistical comparisons, then January numbers of any given year should be compared to those of January of the prior year. The SEVP leadership should be sent to the Bureau of Labor Statistics or to the Census Bureau for a couple of days to learn how to handle numbers in an intelligible way.

As has been pointed out in previous CIS publications, the SEVP-certified institutions (except those involved in flight training) need not be accredited by any educational organization and the non-accredited entities can continue to cause the issuance of F-1 and M-1 visas despite their status as pretty much the dregs of the (usually for-profit) education business.

There is absolutely no mention of anything like this in the report, but there is a note that the number of SEVP-certified schools has fallen by 3.2% (to 8,856) in the quarter just ended. That cannot be anything but good news.

There is one other specific in this report which is interesting. It is the status of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry as the top "M-1 Approved School" in the country. This is a religious training institution that has no ties to any denomination, only to a single mega-church in

As CIS pointed out earlier, the stated philosophy of the institution is that its students should live and work in the community; that's all very well for students recruited in the U.S., but foreign students are not supposed to work off campus unless there is a special economic need. And this report says that there are 772 of the foreign students at Bethel, more than twice as many as in any other M-1 institution.

One need not spend too much time worrying about how SEVP, a remarkably passive agency, handles that challenge! If it does anything at all, I would be very, very surprised.