In a national security snafu, a 23-year-old illegal alien from Ukraine, Artur Samarin, exploited the immigration system and was enrolled in Harrisburg’s John Harris High School under the alias Asher Potts for four years.
Samarin, who was a 20-year-old high school graduate and had completed two years of college, originally arrived in the United States on a temporary Exchange Visitor Visa. The J-1 Visa is used by foreign nationals who want to participate in an exchange visitor or internship program. It is intended for students seeking practical training that is not available in their home country. The J-1 Visa obligates students to return to their home country after the end of their three-month program. However, Samarin circumvented this process by applying for, and, receiving a B-2 Tourist Visa.
By the time his B-2 Visa expired in March 2013, Samarin had already used a fake birth certificate and Social Security number to attend Harris High. Like all school systems across the country, Harrisburg School District is prohibited by law from making inquiries related to a student’s immigration status for enrollment purposes. However, this case highlights the woeful inadequacies in our immigration system.
Samarin’s success in obtaining both the birth certificate and a Social Security card demonstrate a clear need for tighter policies surrounding issuance of such important documents. It is unfathomable that an illegal alien could visit several different Social Security Administration offices and then procure a Social Security card.
Equally troubling is the ease by which nonimmigrant foreign nationals are able to overstay their visas. Had a biometric entry/exit screening system been in place at all ports of entry, as mandated by Congress in 1996, the fact that Samarin overstayed his visa would not have gone completely unnoticed by immigration authorities. Remarkably, it took an anonymous tip to the police regarding Samarin being in the country illegally and having sex with female students to even garner the attention of federal immigration officials. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) nailed it when he said that the United States sends a message to the world that you can get away with overstaying your visa. It defies reason that the federal government refuses to investigate 99 percent of nonimmigrant foreign nationals who enter the country legally but overstay their visas even though Congress has mandated biometric entry/exit screening. Samarin serves as a clear example why it is imperative to implement these biometric requirements immediately.