When Federal Agents Come Calling: Educating Campus Stakeholders

Sounds scary, huh?  This is the name of a webinar offered by NAFSA:  Association of International Educators on 22 March.  For $149 for members ($189 for nonmembers) you could have “come away with strategies for building positive relationships with federal agents and dealing with difficult situations.” 

According to the webinar “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently launched Project Campus Sentinel and began visiting DSOs and schools throughout the United States with the apparent goal (my italics) of visiting every school that hosts international students. The government is closely analyzing the data you provide, paying attention to your international students and faculty, and planning visits. Prepare for contact from federal agents by having policies and procedures in place and educating your campus stakeholders.” 

Webinar objectives were:

  • Understand which federal agencies are contacting campuses and why;
  • Learn how to best manage interactions and establish relationships with federal agents;
  • Gain insights on developing and adapting policies and procedures for your campus. 

It seems to me that the highest priority for “federal agents,” before attempting to achieve the aforementioned “apparent goal,” should be to take a close and careful look – from the comfort and convenience of their laptops – at the list of SEVP-Certified Schools, now available in a searchable database on the Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website.  I did and noticed a number of unaccredited schools that are recruiting internationally.  Some made the news last year (e.g., Tri-Valley, University of Northern Virginia), while others – still on the list – are cautionary tales, juicy stories waiting to be written by enterprising investigative journalists.  (Is anyone at The Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed listening?  USA Today?) 

Since the US State Department represents “officially accredited” schools through its EducationUSA advising centers around the world, why does the US government permit international students to attend “rogue provider” institutions?  Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?  (This is a rhetorical question.) 


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