Claire McCaskill
5:37 pm
Sun March 6, 2011

McCaskill wants investigation into abuse of exchange program

Sen. Claire McCaskill is asking for stricter oversight of a popular U.S. college exchange program after a federal investigation revealed that some non-existent universities are using the program to bring thousands of people into the country illegally.

The latest case involves a sham university in California that more than a thousand students from India had applied to attend. McCaskill says other investigations have revealed schools in California being used as a front for a Russian prostitution ring.

McCaskill calls the misuse of the program a potential security risk. She wants an inspector general investigation and an audit, and legislation to tighten any loopholes.

Immigration and Customs enforcement, she says, would be responsible for making sure that documents fromt the students who applied are accurate.

"The question is, were they cross-checking with higher ed, that has to provide the certification that these schools are legitimate, and that the schools are actually providing an education," she says. Students paid up to $5,000 for the visa to participate in the program, and McCaskill says it went straight to the pockets of the people running the scam.

She says there's no evidence that legitimate universities are misuing the system.

McCaskill on Sunday also urged caution about tapping into the nation's stockpile of oil to easy skyrocketing gas prices.

The ongoing unrest in oil-producing countries means even tighter supplies could be ahead, she says. The better thing is to look in the  mirror.

"We’ve got to get over our addiction to foreign oil. We’ve got to start really focusing on how we use less oil in this country, and how we use other fuels, and how we use other methods of transportation besides automobiles that are fueled entirely with Middle East oil," she says.

McCaskill says she would also favor expanding drilling in areas where oil companies already hold leases, but does not want to open additional land like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.