Designated School Officials: What is Campus Sentinel?
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). HSI’s mission is to investigate, deter and stop threats arising from the movement of people and goods into and out of the United States. In regards to F and M students, HSI’s goal is to ensure that we welcome legitimate students into the United States and turn away those who seek to harm the United States. HSI accomplishes this very important mission through the Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU), which investigates nonimmigrant visa holders who violate their immigration status. CTCEU places high priority on combatting the criminal exploitation of the student visa system.
ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and CTCEU work together to identify and prevent visa abuse by school officials and students. In 2012 CTCEU initiated an outreach program directed at SEVP-certified schools. This initiative, Project Campus Sentinel, focuses on opening communication channels directly between designated schools officials (DSOs) and HSI special agents in ICE field offices. Through this outreach, CTCEU’s goal is to build partnerships between ICE field offices and SEVP-certified schools to detect and combat school fraud and visa exploitation.
Project Campus Sentinel not only provides school officials with the tools to help them identify possible threats to national security within the F and/or M student population, but also provides them with the proper outlet to report this information. So far, HSI special agents have made more than 1,200 outreaches in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam.
DSO Role in Campus Sentinel
DSOs have the responsibility to ensure that the F and M students at their school follow the DHS regulations and federal laws that govern student time during a program of study. It is important to identify a potential problem before it becomes a national security concern. By sharing information, agencies want to help improve the school’s management system of their programs and help prevent students from falling out of nonimmigrant status. For example, information sharing between CTCEU, SEVP, DSOs and students provides improved strategies for identifying and prosecuting unlawful activity. HSI’s investigation of schools that do not comply with SEVP requirements helps uphold the integrity of legitimate schools and programs.