Visa vulnerability: Why does DHS lose track of overstayers?

I recently took a brief trip abroad, and the process for exiting and reentering the United States as a citizen looks like this: Make an airline reservation, which electronically alerts federal authorities that you plan to leave the country. Show up at the airport, show your passport, have it checked against the entry requirements of the destination country. Present the passport again on entering the airplane. Fill out forms on the airplane, present the forms and passport for inspection in the destination country. On the way home, return to the airport, certify that all legal obligations have been met (exit tax, etc.), present passport and documents to immigration authorities, board plane, fill out customs declaration, land, scan passport into kiosk, have photo taken, answer questionnaire, present photo and questionnaire to immigration authorities, answer such questions as are presented, reclaim baggage, present passport and paperwork to final exit control station. Which is to say, as a citizen coming and going, I present the federal government with a dozen or so opportunities to determine my whereabouts and the legality of same. But we cannot keep track of foreign nationals who are obliged to apply for visas?


We are perfectly capable of keeping track of these things: Miss the January payment on your Macy’s card by two days, and financial firms around the world will know instantly, but flout federal immigration law, and the mighty, mighty Department of Homeland Security can’t find its own ass with both hands, much less locate yours. Congress should give DHS a deadline — say, June 1 of this year — to at least get a handle on how bad a job it is doing. And if it fails to satisfy congressional demands, then DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson should be expected to resign or face impeachment. Impeachment is not something to be taken lightly, but we cannot afford to have intelligence operations that are this unintelligent. Institutional ignorance on this level does not happen by accident or through negligence — it happens only by design.