Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
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Over a decade after the worst terrorist attack in our nation's history, it seems that the U.S. immigration system that allowed the September 11 hijackers to enter the country legally is still flawed.
Some lawmakers question whether Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev should have been so easily admitted back into the U.S. after his trip to Russia, Chechnya, and Dagestan last year. After all, in 2011 the Russian government warned both the FBI and the CIA that they were worried that Tsarnaev had become an extremist, and would be traveling to meet with underground groups. The U.S. investigated and found nothing.
Now there is another concern. Three friends of alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have now been arrested for their alleged involvement after the Boston Marathon attack. Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev, and Robel Phillipos all went to school with Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Two are accused of removing evidence from Tsarnaev's dorm room after the attack, including a backpack containing fireworks and a laptop.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, both from Kazakhstan, were staying in the U.S. on student visas. But Tazhayakov is no longer a student. Tazhayakov' returned to Kazakhstan in December 2012, according to a U.S. government official. While he was overseas, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth terminated his status as a student, on January 4.
At that point, his student visa should have been invalidated. The university took the proper steps, and provided information to the appropriate system for foreign students, flagging that he was no longer registered.
But Customs and Border Protection never got the message, so when he returned to the states on January 20, CBP granted Tazhayakov entry.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement, saying it is "reforming the student visa system to ensure that CBP is provided with real time updates on all relevant student visa information."
A GAO report notes that as of January 2012, more than 850,000 foreign students were in the United States, enrolled at more than 10,000 U.S. schools.
Tazhayakov – the DHS says – was not a threat at the time of his re-entry.
Just the latest instance of holes in information-sharing between U.S. agencies.