A number of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers were visa overstays, prompting the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to complete a tracking system so all visitors to the U.S. are tracked on entry and exit. The entry system works, but the government does not have a complete working exit system. The man who drove the van containing explosives into the World Trade Center garage in 1993 was a student visa holder who was a no-show at school. The terrorist who flew a plane into the Pentagon also was a visa no-show. People who overstay their visa, or come in to the country on a student visa but don’t show up at school ARE a grave threat to the United States.
Last year 480,000 foreign nationals came into this country and overstayed their visa according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), “adding to a backlog that’s reached some 5 million total, members of Congress said. But immigration agents launched investigations into just 10,000 of them, or about 0.2 percent, and arrested fewer than 2,000, less than 0.04 percent, saying the others don’t rise to the level of being priority targets.” Does it really take another 3,000 dead for people to realize that this is a problem?
Craig Healy, assistant director for national security investigations at ICE testified before congress on Tuesday and struggled to defend the administration’s meager efforts:
Immigration agents catch an abysmally small percentage of the illegal immigrants who arrived on visas but overstayed their welcome, authorities admitted to Congress Tuesday, describing a loophole that those around the globe are increasingly using to gain a foothold in the U.S.
“We utilize our prioritization scheme along with the resources that we have,” Craig Healy, assistant director for national security investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said as he struggled to defend the administration’s meager efforts.
He blamed a shortage of funding and a tricky environment, where authorities only have limited information, and it takes them months to decide if someone really did overstay their visa and if they are deemed serious enough offenders to make an effort to go after.
Members of Congress were stunned, saying more needs to be done to go after overstays.
Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said the Obama administration has increasingly lost sight of the problem, deporting some 12,500 overstays in 2009, but just 6,800 in 2012 and only 2,500 last year — or less than one out of every 2,000.
By deporting such a small percentage of the visa overstayers, the message they are sending wide and far is just get into the country, if you’re not convicted of a serious crime, [and] you’re going to be allowed to stay. You’re gonna pass go; you’re gonna get the money,” Mr. Smith said. “That is the wrong message to send because it increases more illegal immigration.”
The fact this visa issue has not been fixed is astounding…