Earlier in the week we discussed the disturbing fact that not even half of “visitors” who come to the United States with a legally obtained visa actually leave when their allotted time is up. At the time I was wondering how many of these visa overstays actually have a warrant issued for them and, even more to the point, how many are actively investigated to see what they’re up to and tap them on the shoulder as Chris Christie once said. If you finished reading that article and found yourself guessing that the numbers might be depressingly low, give yourself a cookie. Turns out that DHS doesn’t have anywhere the resources required to track them all down and are currently investigating only a tiny fraction of them. (Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon)
The Department of Homeland Security is actively investigating just 3,000 of the 6 million individuals who have overstayed their visas and now reside in the United States illegally, according to disclosures made before Congress.
Craig Healthy, Homeland’s assistant director for national security investigations, admitted that there are just 3,000 active investigations, or .05 percent, into some six million aliens who have illegally overstayed their visas in the United States during the past 20 years.
Investigators have additionally “exhausted” 1,626 “leads” into these individuals, Healy disclosed under questioned by Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.), a member of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee.
In some ways I almost hate to have these figures released in public because it just seems like an advertisement for anyone considering coming here illegally. Just apply for a tourist visa, show up, toss it in the trash and you’re on your way! But since it’s already been announced it’s too late to do anything about it now. This isn’t a blanket condemnation of the Department of Homeland Security, by the way. There’s obviously no way that they could track down that many visa overstays without adding the entire Chinese army to their ranks. Perhaps the problem here is that we’re simply far too free and easy handing out these visas in the first place.
On that front there may be some very small bit of relief on the way. As part of the horrendous spending bill compromise last year, the White House was forced to put some new visa waiver guidelines in place. As of this week, those changes are going into effect. (WaPo)
The Obama administration announced on Thursday that it has begun to implement restrictions to the visa waiver program Congress passed as part of the budget deal last month.
The restrictions prevent nationals of 38 countries who have either traveled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan since March 1, 2011, or those who hold citizenship from those countries, from coming to the United States under the program. The visa waiver program offers expedited electronic processing and short-term visa-free travel to tourists and business travelers.
Instead, dual nationals and travelers who have spent time in the listed countries will be required to go through the full vetting of the regular visa process, which includes an in-person interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
As I said, you don’t have to read very far into this to see that it’s a small change indeed. It’s not really even a reduction in the number of visas, but simply restrictions on how many people we’re allowing to come here from terrorist infested areas without bothering to get a visa in the first place. (And yes, the question you’re supposed to be asking is, wait… we were doing that?) But I suppose it’s better than nothing, so let’s give the White House credit for holding up their end of the deal.