While it would be nice to get our borders under control and stem the tide of people who take the rather direct route into our country of jumping fences, such a move doesn’t do anything to address the question of people who obtain a visa to visit and simply never leave. Is that really much of a problem? Well, if you ask the Department of Homeland Security it is. Last year alone, more than half of the people who arrived with a valid visa failed to leave when their time was up. (Washington Free Beacon.)
More than half a million aliens overstayed their temporary visas in the United States in 2015, with more than 482,000 of those individuals believed to be still residing illegally in the United States, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security.
Around 527,127 aliens temporally granted U.S. business and tourist visas were found to have stayed in the United States longer than legally permitted, according to DHS’s 2015 entry and exit overstay report.
Of those who did not leave the United States on time, around 482,781 are believed to still be illegally residing in the United States, according to the report, which was issued by DHS amid debate in Congress over an Obama administration initiative to permit around 170,000 new immigrants from Muslim-majority nations in 2016.
Are you serious? Nearly half a million people came here “legally” with a visa last year and just stayed. (Illegally.) And that’s in a single year. A 2015 study concluded that 1.5 million to 1.7 million illegal immigrants arrived in the United States from 2009 through 2013. Even taking the outside number, that average will tell you, as the study concluded, that people using visas as a throwaway, safe method of getting inside the country is probably as great of a border control failure as those climbing fences, if not even more so.
Sure, everyone had a good laugh when Chris Christie suggested some sort of bio-metric monitoring scheme similar to FedEx package tracking for those arriving here on a visa, but we’ve obviously passed the point where some new options have to be considered. Yes, I realize that tagging people to track their movements sounds like something out of a dystopian future sci-fi film. And, of course, any suggesting of tracking people at all is automatically considered racist or xenophobic or what have you, but the alternative is essentially doing nothing.
In theory, if you overstay your visa there are serious consequences, including being barred from future entry to the United States for as long as ten years. That sounds great, but how likely is it that you’ll be caught? Do we even have anyone in charge of issuing bench warrants for every person who fails to leave the country at the end of their legal stay? I can’t even find any solid data on that question, but if we do then we should assume that there were nearly half a million new bench warrants issued last year alone. I’m sure they did it for some, but color me skeptical that every last one of them has been properly entered into the system.
As Washington once again wrestles with the President’s executive action on “immigration reform” this week, perhaps they could bring up this question. It’s certainly worth a look.