Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security has ordered its border agents to verify that every international student who arrives to the United States holds a valid student visa. The internal memorandum obtained Friday by the Associated Press, is the government’s new procedure and first security change directly related to the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
David J. Murphy, a senior official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, circulated the order Thursday, one day after the Obama Administration acknowledged that a student from Kazakhstan accused of hiding evidence for one of the Boston bombing suspects was allowed to return to the United States in January, without a valid student visa.
Azamat Tazhayakov’s student visa had already been terminated when he arrived in New York on January 20th. However, the Border Patrol agent in the airport did not have access to the information about the visa in DHS’ Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Tazhayakov and a second Kazakh student were arrested this week on federal charges of obstruction of justice. They are accused of helping to get rid of a backpack containing fireworks owned by bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. A third student was also arrested and accused of lying to federal authorities.