Visa overstays

Twenty years ago, approximately 60 percent of the illegal alien population in the United States had entered and evaded capture at our border. Now, about 60 percent of illegal aliens in the United States have simply overstayed a temporary visa.

The Center for Immigration Studies testified before Congress that:

Recent overstay estimates indicate that from one-third to one-half of the number of illegal aliens in the United States are visa overstayers... The total net cost of illegal immigration runs about $10 billion per year at the federal level, after taxes are accounted for, so the share of that cost attributable to visa overstayers is likely between three to five billion dollars per year.

There are three categories of visa overstayers:

  • Those who were issued actual visas.
  • Those who came from countries that have been granted participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
  • Those who entered from Mexico or Canada with Border Crossing Cards (BCCs).

It should be noted that while the number of visas issued grew 71 percent from 2009 to 2014, the percentage of visa denials dropped from 18.6 percent to 15.3 percent. Thus, our government has dramatically relaxed the visa screening process, allowing entry of more aliens who normally would be excluded on the basis of threat of terrorism, crime, or because of health reasons.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) offers a glaring loophole in the visa screening process. It is not secure. Normal screening is bypassed, with a maximum of one minute typically allocated to screen each alien entering through the program.

The Center for Immigration Studies further testified that:

Only a handful of states require employers to verify the immigration status of new workers, and workplace enforcement is not the top priority for ICE, so few employers feel any urgency to comply voluntarily with the laws forbidding the hiring of illegal workers. A couple of states still issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens and temporary visitors. These documents can be used to obtain employment, bank accounts, and firearms, among other trappings of a legal existence. Even if DHS is able to determine which visitors overstay, there is little chance that ICE will act on the information.

As FAIR points out:

And as long as comprehensive exit-entry record matching is not achieved, there is no systematic means to develop needed information on the extent and nature of the overstay problem or to implement a system that effectively denies foreign visitors anonymity when they chose to become overstayers to take a job or plan an attack against the U.S. public.

References

DHS Reports Huge Number of Visitors Overstayed in 2015 - Only 3% of ICE enforcement resources are dedicated to addressing overstays, Center for Immigration Studies, January 20, 2016:

Jessica Vaughan, the Center's Director of Policy Studies, says, "Lawmakers and the public should be tremendously concerned that DHS identified more than more than 400,000 foreign visitors who did not depart in 2015 as required and who apparently have joined the huge population of illegal aliens in the United States. More than 12,000 came from countries associated with terrorism. Clearly, our immigration controls are not sufficient to protect Americans. These scofflaws are encouraged by the Obama administration's appalling neglect of interior enforcement and overly generous visa policies."
 
The report identified just over 527,000 foreign visitors who apparently did not depart as required when their authorized stay expired in 2015. Approximately 484,000 were presumed to be still in the United States at the end of 2015, and 416,500 had not departed as of January 4, 2016.
 
Visa Overstays Are Today's Immigration Crisis, Mark Krikorian, National Review Online, October 1, 2015.

Border infiltrators were indeed the main type of illegal immigrants for a long time. Estimates dating from the 1990s were that about 60 percent of the illegal population had jumped the border...

... the majority of new illegal aliens are actually visa overstayers.

This is the most important — albeit buried — finding in a paper published this year by the Center for Migration Studies, an expansionist outfit run by the Scalabrinian Catholic order that nonetheless does serious work. Co-authored by Robert Warren, head of statistics for the old INS, the paper finds that the share of overstays among new illegal aliens has been rising pretty steadily since the 1980s and surpassed border infiltrators in 2008. The paper's most recent estimate is for 2012, when nearly 60 percent of new illegal immigrants are believed to have entered legally on some sort of visa (or visa-waiver status, if they're from a developed country) and then just stayed on after their time expired.

An indication of what's driving this overstay crisis was highlighted by my colleague David North in a recent paper. He found a huge increase in the overall number of "non-immigrant" (i.e., ostensibly temporary) visas issued by the State Department, and an accompanying decline in the percentage of applications being denied. In just five years, from 2009 to 2014, the number of visas issued grew 71 percent, while the percentage of visa denials dropped from 18.6 percent to 15.3 percent...

Is it any surprise, then, that of the 1,000 illegal aliens who settle here each day, the majority are visa overstays?

Beyond DAPA and DACA: Revisiting Legislative Reform in Light of Long-Term Trends in Unauthorized Immigration to the United States, by Robert Warren, Donald Kerwin, Journal on Migration and Human Security, December, 2014.

The number who stayed beyond the period authorized by their temporary visas (overstays) exceeded the number who entered across the southern land border without inspection (EWIs) in each year from 2008 to 2012.

Visa Overstayers, FAIR, 2013.

The security gap represented by the inability of DHS to comprehensively match entry and exit records means that the government has no way to accurately identify the size of the visa overstayer problem. Similarly, it does not have the ability to identify the countries from which visa overstayers come or what demographic characteristics they may have in common. That means that DHS is unable to advise consular officials in a given country that a disproportionate number of travelers from that country with a specific type of visa have proven to be overstayers, and thus remedial measures to reduce the problem are not possible. Also, because DHS is unable to say what the overstayer rate is from a given country in the VWP, there can be no confidence in substituting an overstay rate for the visa refusal rate in deciding whether a country should be included in or remain in the program...

And as long as comprehensive exit-entry record matching is not achieved, there is no systematic means to develop needed information on the extent and nature of the overstay problem or to implement a system that effectively denies foreign visitors anonymity when they chose to become overstayers to take a job or plan an attack against the U.S. public.

Nonimmigrants Surge Under Obama Administration, by David North, Center for Immigration Studies, September 2015.

End Visa Overstays, NumbersUSA.

While much of the discussion of illegal immigration has been over border security, visa overstay is just as much part of the problem. Overstayers fall in three different categories: those who were issued visas, those who came from countries that have been granted participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and those who entered from Mexico or Canada with Border Crossing Cards (BCCs).

While there is no definitive number on how many people have overstayed their visas, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates the number to be between 4.5 and 6 million people. That represents between 37.5% and 50% of the estimated 11-18 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S.

Congressional Testimony - Visa Waiver Program Oversight, Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration Studies, December 2011.

Identifying, Screening, and Tracking Aliens, David Simcox, The Social Contract, Fall 2001.

Crime and Immigration, by Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (ret.), The Social Contract, Summer 2011.

Invasion America, by Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.), The Social Contract, Fall 2014.

Placating Americans with Fake Immigration Law Enforcement, by Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.), Front Page Magazine, December 4, 2015.

Visa Waiver Program, Some Known Unknowns, Coleen Rowley and Georgianne Nienaber, The Unz Review, December 1, 2015.

 
 
CAIRCO Research

Visa Waiver Program - CAIRCO research, 2015.

Visa Diversity Lottery - CAIRCO research, 2015.

Visa alphabet soup - an unmanageable mix - CAIRCO research.