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A Louisiana state legislator asked his state for information on faculty members at Louisiana public institutions who hold green cards and are from what he dubbed “threat countries,” such as China and Venezuela, as well as information on students from those nations.

Charles Owen, a Republican, wrote about his military career and past security clearances on The Hayride, which calls itself “Louisiana’s premier conservative political commentary site,” early this month, saying it was “ingrained in me to be on watch for things that might jeopardize the security of the United States of America.” He wrote that he “was trained to be on the lookout for real and potential adversaries and things that might give our nation’s enemies the slightest advantage. To this day, my eyes are wide open, and my internal antennae are up, and on the watch.”

“A recent inquiry into the university systems in the State of Louisiana revealed things that concern me greatly,” he wrote. “We have citizens from other countries—places some call enemies—who are on faculty at our universities.” He further wrote that in “more than one location, we have a majority of faculty members from threat nations in particular departments on our campuses. In Louisiana. Yes, right here in Louisianna [sic] in public universities.”

Owen requested information from the Louisiana State University, University of Louisiana and Southern University systems, including whether “any of the departments in any of your universities (including graduate, undergraduate, and professional) have a majority of tenured faculty members who are green card holders from any of the following countries: (1) People’s Republic of China (PRC); (2) Russia; (3) Iran; (4) Venezuela; (5) Lebanon; and (6) Pakistan.”

In response, as reported Saturday by The Louisiana Illuminator, those systems named only three departments where that was the case.

“Not a widespread occurrence at all, and the Board of Regents was very cooperative and very timely in their responses to me, and I’m very grateful for that,” Owen told Inside Higher Ed Tuesday. He said he’s still reviewing the responses and plans to brief the House Committee on Education chair.

“Countries who are not free generally don’t send people abroad who are not tied in with their national agendas … It is a concern as to who is at our public universities,” he said, adding that he’s also concerned about the intersection between federally funded research at these universities and these academics.

Owen had written on The Hayride that at “a number of our institutions, we have research activities, agreements and consortiums with a variety of government entities in the United States. The existence of those activities and agreements in proximity to large numbers or ANY numbers of faculty members from competitor or threat nations is a concern to me.”

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