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Attorney General Addresses Immigration

Aired May 10, 2002 - 13:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to get to Washington again, the attorney general, John Ashcroft, now fielding questions about new measures implemented by the Justice Department on tracking students and the visas that they have in this country.

We shall listen now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: ...position taken by the Justice Department is in each case a sound position, and there is serious and substantial legal precedent to support the procedures used by the department.

QUESTION: Sir, can you give us an indication of the direction that the investigation is taking into the four students detained in Norfolk and the one in Northern Virginia for fraudulent English proficiency exams?

ASHCROFT: We had a very substantial effort. I think it resulted in a complaint naming about 144 individuals for fraudulently providing a basis for certifying individuals as English-proficient so that they could gain visas as students into the country. When individuals substitute themselves for other individuals in taking tests in order to provide certification or a basis for certification, that's a serious matter.

Over 60 arrests have been made, and we will continue the investigation with intensity. I'm not prepared to or should I make comments about specific cases within the framework of this investigation.

QUESTION: Mr. Hanssen was sentenced today. Do you have any final words that you'd like to share on the life sentence that was given to Mr. Hanssen in federal court today, sir?

ASHCROFT: Robert Hanssen was trained and trusted by Americans and by our American government to sustain, support and secure the safety of America. He used the training and abused the trust in a way which threatened the safety and security of America, and I'm pleased that this chapter in American history has been closed on this day.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Mr. Hanssen cooperated fully with the debriefers? Did he tell them the truth? ASHCROFT: Mr. Hanssen's sentencing today reflects the belief of the investigating agencies that there was substantial compliance by Mr. Hanssen in his responsibility to cooperate as a part of this sentencing.

Thank you very much.

HEMMER: John Ashcroft, quick comments there at end about Robert Hanssen, the topic that we just left off prior to joining the attorney general. But the INS announcement today, in that briefing, in fact, before we joined it, a new system, a Web-based system, essentially, that will help track down hundreds of thousands of foreign students working here and living here, going to school here in the United States. The system is said to link every U.S. consulate with every INS port of entry in all 74,000 -- 74,000 -- educational institutions eligible to host students from overseas.

That's the news from the Justice Department. Certainly, all this a result of, and the fallout from, 9/11.

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