Why Not Let the Foreign Exchange Students Go to High School Here?

I’m puzzled by Mark Krikorian’s objection to exchange programs for high school students — basically he wants to prevent any foreigners from attending 9th through 12th grade in the United States, whereas he’s okay with college or graduate study.

My colleague Jessica Vaughan notes that Hosam Smadi, the Jordanian terrorist arrested in Dallas, came here on a student visa to go to high school. High school? Why on earth would we admit foreign students to go to high school? Foreign students are not immigrants, who have permanent residency and can enroll in whatever high school will take them, but rather people who have no claim to come to the United States but are admitted because a high school approved their admission on a foreign-student (F-1) visa. It turns out there are 20,000 such people, including Smadi’s younger brother, Husein, who was also arrested last week and is “studying for his high school diploma at Wilson High,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. Ironically, the school’s website says “Sorry, Wilson High School does not take out of district students.” So, apparently Americans from, say, nearby Cupertino can’t enroll there but Jordanians can get student visas to fly halfway across the globe to go there.

I’m glad some American high school students get the chance to study abroad, and equally glad that some foreigners get the opportunity to attend high school here. As exchange students go, these kids seem less likely than their college compatriots to overstay their visas or use education as a false pretense to gain entry, and it can’t be a bad thing to expose impressionable 14-year-olds from predominantly Muslim countries to American culture. If the only objection is that one unsuccessful terrorist got in on this kind of visa once, that hardly seems like a sound argument.