Amid the impeachment soap opera revolving around allegations of foreign interference in our politics, everyone is ignoring the ultimate foreign influence in our nation through unvetted visas.
Immediately following the terrorist attack on the Pensacola naval base by a Saudi foreign student, I asked the following question: If we can’t even vet the most closely scrutinized military trainees coming onto our secured naval bases, do you really have confidence that there aren’t thousands of other green card recipients and general foreign students from these countries who harbor the same views Mohammed Alshamrani allegedly expressed on social media? Let me introduce you to Hassan Alqahtani.
Alqahtani is one of the 40,000 or so Saudi students who are brought in every year to study in American universities. He was studying engineering at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and was slated to graduate over the weekend, but instead he was arrested by the FBI for weapons charges. The FBI is also investigating a tip from someone who knows Alqahtani that he was putting together "a list of people who he wants to kill before he leaves the US."
The FBI searched Alqahtani’s home on Thursday and discovered a Cobra handgun and ammunition, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in New Mexico. As a visitor on a non-immigrant visa. Alqahtani is prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm. At present, he is only being charged on a weapons violation as the investigation into any potential plot continues.
We are bringing in hundreds of thousands of people from volatile countries every year on long-term visas without a clue to who they are. Trump’s entire campaign on immigration was built on the premise that there should be a moratorium of visas from these countries until we have better vetting. Yet we have not found a better way of vetting them since Trump made that promise. And despite the Pensacola shooting, there is no evidence that the administration is going to take a more aggressive posture on visas.