President Trump signed a memo yesterday alerting State and Homeland Security they have 120 days to come up with measures to address visa overstays, a large part of the illegal immigration problem facing the country. Within the frameworks of the current system, there’s no viable way to prevent people from staying in the country often they travel here on a temporary basis.
“We have laws that need to be followed to keep Americans safe and to protect the integrity of a system where, right now, there are millions of people who are waiting in line to come to America to seek the American Dream,” Trump said.
In 2018 alone, an estimate 415,000 people have remained in the country beyond what their visas allowed.
The problem with a leaky dam is that you have to plug all the holes or the problem will keep getting worse. All of the focus for the past few months has been on the southern border because it’s the most visible hole in the system, but an argument can be made that the less visible visa overstay problem is actually bigger.
While a majority of those crossing the southern border illegally are from Mexico and Central America, there are people from across the world who use the porous border to sneak into the country. But with the visa program, a larger percentage of the people coming in and never leaving are from countries that have people who pose real threats to our security. It can be argued that from a terrorism-prevention perspective, addressing the visa overstay aspect of the problem is more important.
There’s another important angle to consider politically. As long as the focus by the administration is on the southern border, detractors of plans for the border wall and other security measures will point to visa overstays as an issue that remains unaddressed. They often argue that the President wants his “big, beautiful wall” as a symbolic tribute to bigotry but won’t look at the other aspects of the issue. Now, those arguments can be debunked.
“Officials will target nations that have overstay rates greater than 10%. Those include Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burundi, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Georgia, Laos, Liberia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen, according to the most recent Department of Homeland Security data.” – Rob Crilly
Illegal immigration is a huge problem for America and it’s getting worse. It must be addressed holistically, and visa overstays have been ignored for far too long. This is a powerful move by the administration to fix the problem.