In a new warning about immigrant crime, a top ICE official Wednesday said that Iran, Russia and China are using visiting students to steal military and high-tech secrets from schools and research centers, many funded by U.S. taxpayers.

“The threat posed by adversarial nation-states illegally and subversively seeking to exploit legitimate educational and research opportunities in the United States, many of which are funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars, is real,” said Louis A. Rodi III, acting director of the national security investigations division.

His department, Rodi testified to the Senate Finance Committee, “knows that these countries are actively implementing a multitude of schemes to illicitly or subversively acquire and transfer export-controlled military and dual use technology and commodities, and are employing myriad schemes to circumvent U.S. export control laws.”

Rodi said that the biggest share of his investigations are of Iran, Russia and China. “The largest number of ongoing HSI Counter Proliferation Investigations (CPI) cases on controlled exports, including intangible exports — i.e., the transmission of technical data from the United States, or transfer to foreign nationals within the United States — involves China, Iran, and Russia,” he said.

His prepared testimony added that students from those traditional U.S. enemies “represent a sizeable portion of the overall nonimmigrant student population currently in the United States.”

His numbers: 357,863 from China, 181,980 in STEM programs; 11,323 Iranian students, 9,057 in STEM; 6,196 Russian students, 2,008 in STEM.

Overall, he added, there are over 1 million foreigners with student visas in the United States.

Homeland has offices overseas and conducts student visa reviews in 27 countries. In fiscal 2018, he said, the agency screened 2,196,708 visa applications and refused 9,007.

He said that the Department of Homeland Security takes efforts to make sure that there is a “free and open academic environment” in the U.S., and it is working overtime to fight theft.

“Exploitation of academia and U.S. research institutions is just one of the schemes these countries are employing to obtain access to sensitive research and export-controlled information and technology, and to facilitate its transfer abroad. These countries are attempting to obtain this information, in many instances in an illegal or subversive manner, in order to advance their own military capabilities or economic goals, many times in contravention to the national security of the United States,” said Rodi’s testimony.

Source » washingtonexaminer