For decades America faced a runaway illegal immigration problem involving illegals simply walking, swimming, or being smuggled across our southern border. It wasn’t the only type of illegal immigration but by far the greatest in sheer numbers and posed the greatest danger to our national security.
Since the election of President Trump, illegal border crossings have dropped to a fraction of the previous numbers under former president Barack Hussein, simply because resources and attention are now being diverted to a problem that was straining America’s social welfare programs, education system, and healthcare system, to name a few. Once the border wall is built, the number of illegal crossings will drop even further.
Illegal border crossings have dropped so significantly since President Trump’s election (even before he was inaugurated the numbers began to slow in anticipation of his hard line illegal immigration stance), that they are no longer the number one illegal immigration problem. Rather, it is visa overstays.
THAT is a rapid turnaround!
A staggering 739,450 people overstayed their visas to become illegal immigrants in 2016, according to a new report released Monday by Homeland Security that suggests the immigration problem has shifted away from people sneaking in, and toward people who came legally but refused to leave when they were supposed to, reports The Washington Times.
“This report shows that we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” a senior administration official said in briefing reporters on the new numbers, vowing to step up enforcement to try to cut down on the violations.
The Trump administration’s report stands in contract to the Obama administration, which played down the numbers last year when officials released a similar report, focusing on the vast majority of travelers who did comply and leave when they were supposed to.
Indeed, more than 98.5 percent of those admitted through airports and seaports departed before their admissions expired in 2016. But the sheer amount of travel — some 54 million visitors who came through those air and sea ports — means that even that small overstay rate works out to nearly 740,000 illegal immigrants.
Some of the overstays were short-term, and they did leave eventually, but the majority were long-term problems. Nearly 630,000 were still in the U.S. at the end of 2016, for a persistent overstay rate of 1.25 percent.
Student visas holders were the worst offenders, with more than 5 percent of them breaking the terms of their visits — and a persistent overstay rate of 2.8 percent.
Almost none of the visa overstays are investigated, Homeland Security officials told Congress last year. Just 2,500 visa overstay cases resulted in deportations in 2015, or a fraction of 1 percent of the problem.
While it’s difficult to know exact flows, some analysts say that for every illegal immigrant nabbed at the border, another one gets through. That means that fewer than 500,000 new illegal immigrants a year have snuck in.
Illegal overstays, meanwhile, easily top that number now, according to the new numbers.
Homeland Security experts say those who come legally then overstay have at least faced some scrutiny, often by State Department employees who issue visas, and then by border officers who make a final determination on everyone admitted. That’s different than border crossers, who face no inspection whatsoever, and where the identity of those who entered is entirely unknown.
Still, experts point out that at least five of the hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist plot were visa overstay.