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May 2nd, 2013
05:52 PM ET

Former ICE director: Congress needs to step up with funding for national security

One of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's three friends Azamat Tazhayakov, of Kazakhstan, should not have been allowed in the country at all. Tazhayakov is currently charged with obstruction of justice.

He was staying in the U.S. on a student visa, but 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.

Resources and funding are a big issue.

"The government has information in their systems but they don't talk to each other, and Congress has not funded them sufficiently to do that," said Julie Myers Wood, former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Wood is now president of Guidepost Solutions.

Moreover, continued Wood, law enforcement officials are also insufficiently funded.

For the approximately 850,000 foreign students that pass through the U.S. visa system last year, "you know how many investigations ICE opened up into visa overstays, all the overstays, not just students?" asked Wood. "About 3,000, and only made 123 criminal arrests."

Wood said that in Tazhayakov's case, not enough time had passed between the university terminating his status and his re-entry.

"The I.T. systems don't share this information automatically," said Wood.

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