Border Wall Gets Most Attention, But Visa Overstays the Real Problem

Illegal immigration isn’t a one-issue problem.

Donald Trump ran on the promise of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to help secure our border and stop the influx of illegal aliens. As president, he’s making good on that promise and has not backed down on his intentions. But according to the federal watchdog group Judicial Watch, most aliens in America are exploiting a legal way to enter the country making it a worse problem than illegal border crossings.

The Center for Migration Studies reports that “two-thirds of those who arrived in 2014 did not illegally cross a border, but were admitted (after screening) on non-immigrant (temporary) visas, and then overstayed their period of admission or otherwise violated the terms of their visas.” This is a trend, far above illegal crossings, which is anticipated to continue climbing from now on.

“That’s because, incredibly, the U.S. doesn’t have an adequate system to assure the foreigners leave when they’re supposed to,” Judical Watch reports. “This has been a serious problem for years and in fact some of the 9/11 hijackers overstayed their visa to plan the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. More than a decade and a half later little has changed. Securing the famously porous southern border is essential to national security but so is a reliable system that cracks down on visa overstays.”

According to the CMS study, there have been 600,000 more overstays than illegal border crossings since 2007. Mexico leads in both overstays and EWIs, or entries without inspection. Here are the breakdowns:

  • California has the largest number of overstays (890,000), followed by New York (520,000), Texas (475,000), and Florida (435,000).
  • Two states had 47 percent of the 6.4 million EWIs in 2014: California (1.7 million) and Texas (1.3 million).
  • The percentage of overstays varies widely by state: more than two-thirds of the undocumented who live in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are overstays. By contrast, the undocumented population in Kansas, Arkansas, and New Mexico consists of fewer than 25 percent overstays.

Judicial Watch notes that the study’s intent was to argue against building a wall, but does a good job at pointing to an often overlooked path for illegal immigration:

The bottom line is that Islamic terrorists are using both avenues to enter the U.S.  As part of an ongoing investigation on the Mexican border, Judicial Watch has published a series of articles documenting how Middle Eastern terrorists have joined forces with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate the U.S. and train in southern border towns near American cities. Sources include local, state and federal law enforcement officials as well as military figures on both sides of the border.

Figures obtained by Judicial Watch from the Department of Homeland Security showed that over 500,000 foreigners overstayed their visas last year, including thousands from at least five terrorist nations. That same year, over 45,000 Mexicans overstayed their visas and thousands more came from South American countries. (China is on the list, too.)

“The visas are granted for ‘business or pleasure’ and the foreigners come via sea or air port of entry,” JW reports. “For nearly a decade, a number of federal audits have offered the alarming figures associated with visa overstays, including one released back in 2011 that estimates half of the nation’s illegal immigrants entered legally with visas.”

It’s estimated that the border wall will cost over $21 billion over three and a half years. After 9/11, the federal government spent $1 billion on an electronic fingerprint and photo scanning system meant to keep track of foreigner visas but have failed miserably by allowing millions, including those who wish to do us harm, to remain in the country undetected. 

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