Multiple Congressional Failures on Visas

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

November 30, 2017
visa overstay imagery
Overstays are unlawfully present, subject to three or 10 year ban on re-entry.
Ordering illegal aliens deported doesn’t mean that they’ll actually be removed. Efforts to deport aliens from several countries is, despite the Trump administration’s best effort, slow going. Part of the blame for the lack of progress lays with recalcitrant countries that refuse to accept back their nationals. And part of the snail’s pace is attributable to U.S. federal court rulings.

In June, a Michigan federal court judge blocked the deportation of 100 Iraqi nationals including some criminals because Iraq refused to accept them. Three months later President Trump announced that his administration would impose sanctions on uncooperative Guinea, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, and Cambodia but what consequences if any those nations may have experienced is not clear.

Other recalcitrant countries include China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iran, Burma, Morocco, Hong Kong, and South Sudan. The biggest offenders are China and Cuban with, respectively, nearly 40,000 and 26,000 outstanding deportation orders pending. In all, the truculent nations have refused about 100,000 of their nationals.

Most of the offending country’s nationals arrived legally on one of various temporary visas, often as a B visitor, or on an M, J, or F visas for students and exchange programs. Once settled, an estimated 40 percent or more overstay. Given what’s known, the State Department has two solutions: first, issue fewer visas or, second, get serious about an entry/exit system that would allow the government to track overseas visitors. For more than three decades, Congress has inexcusably stalled on entry/exit.
The current entry practice is that when a foreign national comes to the U.S. through a port of entry his fingerprints and a photograph are taken, and an immigration official interviews him. But nothing happens when a foreign national leaves---or doesn’t leave. The 1996 Illegal Immigrant Reform and Illegal Immigrant Responsibility Act mandated entry/exit, but the system hasn’t been implemented.

In 2014, ABC News reported on the U.S.’s poor tracking. Noting that in 2013 about 58,000 students overstayed their visas. Of those, 6,000 were referred to immigration agents for follow-up because they were determined to be of heightened concern, [potential links to terrorism.]" One of the conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six and injured more than 1,000 was a student visa holder who was a no-show at school, and overstayed.

Congress has no valid justification for allowing visa overstays simply because it’s unwilling to put an entry/exit system into place. Visa overstays are now the biggest problem in illegal immigration.

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