Abolish ICE? Who Will Chase and Nab Illegal Visa Overstayers? 

Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a reputed leftist such as the late Hugo Chavez who all but destroyed Venezuela.

Democratic lawmakers, their so-called activist groups and their news media messengers have been attempting to drum up public support in order to force lawmakers to pass legislation that abolishes the entire Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directorate. However, a new government report brings up a subject that few left-wing Democrats or RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) seem to understand: What do we do with millions of illegal aliens who remain in the U.S. long after their visitor-visas have expired?

President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday released the latest Entry/Exit Visa Overstay Report. The report provides research figures of departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who entered as non-immigrants via air or sea ports of entry (POE) and were expected to depart from the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY’17).

The people described in this report include temporary workers and families, students, exchange visitors, temporary visitors for pleasure, temporary visitors for business, and other non-immigrant classes of admission.

DHS researchers have shown that there were 52,656,022 in-scope non-immigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs with expected departures occurring in FY 2017; the in-scope admissions represent the vast majority of all air and sea non-immigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS calculated a total overstay rate of 1.33 percent, or 701,900 overstay events.

However, according to a news analysis on this subject by Conservative Base’s Jim Kouri, significant numbers of foreign visitors overstay their authorized periods of admission. Based in part on its long-standing I-94 system for tracking arrivals and departures, the Department of Homeland Security estimated the overstay population at 2.3 million. But this estimate excludes an unknown number of long-term overstays from Mexico and Canada, and by definition and it excludes short-term overstays from these and other countries.

The report also breaks down the overstay rates further to provide a better picture of those overstays who remain in the United States beyond their period of admission and for whom there is no identifiable evidence of a departure, an extension of period of admission, or transition to another immigration status. At the end of FY 2017, there were 606,926 Suspected In-Country Overstays. The overall Suspected In-Country Overstay rate was 1.15 percent of the expected departures.

The U.S. government is using a multifaceted approach to enforce overstay violations, including improving entry and exit data collection and reporting, notifying visitors of an impending expiration of their authorized period of admission, cancelling travel authorizations and visas for violators, recurrent vetting of many nonimmigrants, and apprehending overstays present in the United States.  Each year, millions of visitors, foreign students, and immigrants come to the United States. Foreign visitors may enter on a legal temporary basis — that is, with an authorized period of admission that expires on a specific date — either with temporary visas (generally for tourism, business, or work) or, in some cases, as tourists or business visitors who are allowed to enter the USA without visas.

The majority of visitors who are tracked depart on time, but others overstay — and since September 11, 2001, the question has arisen as to whether overstay issues might have an impact on domestic security.

Because of unresolved weaknesses in DHS’s long-standing tracking system (e.g., non-collection of some departure forms), there exists no truly accurate list of illegal aliens who are overstays. Tracking system weaknesses make it difficult to monitor potentially suspicious aliens who enter the country legally — and limit immigration control options.

Post-September 11 operations identified thousands of overstays and other illegal immigrant workers who (despite limited background checks) had obtained critical infrastructure jobs and security badges with access to, for example, airport tarmacs and U.S. military bases.   In the wake of the 9-11 al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, the Bush administration nabbed illegal aliens working at highly-sensitive government and private business facilities. While federal investigators have arrested more than 1,360 illegal workers, the majority have eluded apprehension. Together with other improvements, better information on overstays might contribute to a layered national defense that is better able to counter threats from foreign terrorists.

The design and implementation of US-VISIT, however, face a number of challenges. It is important that this new program avoid specific weaknesses associated with the long-standing system. Checking for these weaknesses might help identify difficult challenges in advance and — together with other efforts — enhance US-VISIT’s chances for eventual success as a tracking system.

The National Strategy for Homeland Security calls for preventing foreign terrorists from entering our country and using all legal means to identify; halt; and where appropriate, prosecute or bring immigration or other civil charges against terrorists in the United States. Congress reported in June 2003 that the visa revocation process needed to be strengthened as an antiterrorism tool and recommended that the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Departments of State and Justice, develop specific policies and procedures to ensure that appropriate agencies are notified of revocations based on terrorism grounds and take proper actions.

An analysis shows that the Departments of State and Homeland Security took some actions -to address weaknesses in the visa revocation process identified in its June 2003 report. However, a review of visas revoked, including a detailed review of a random sample of 35 cases, showed that weaknesses remained in the implementation of the revocation process, especially in the timely transmission of information among federal agencies.

For example, delays exist in matching names of suspected terrorists with names of visa holders and in forwarding necessary information to the State Department. In at least 3 of the 35 cases, it took them 6 months or more to revoke visas after receiving a recommendation to do so. In 3 cases, it took a week or longer after deciding to revoke visas to post a lookout or notify the Department of Homeland Security.

Without these notifications, DHS may not know to investigate those individuals who may be in the country. In 10 cases, DHS either failed to notify or took several months to notify immigration investigators that individuals with revoked visas may be in the country. It then took over 2 months for immigration investigators to request field investigations of these individuals.

After government investigators initiated its first inquiry, additional actions were taken to improve the process, including revising procedures and reassessing the process. The DHS and State Department believe these actions will help avoid the delays experienced in the past. The State Department revised its procedures and formalized its tracking system for visa revocation cases. DHS has developed new written procedures and acted to ensure that immigration investigators are aware of all individuals with revoked visas who may be in the country.

The State Department and DHS also took some steps to address legal and policy issues related to visa revocations. In April, the Terrorist Screening Center, an interagency group organized under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), identified the visa revocation process as a potential homeland security vulnerability and developed an informal process for TSC to handle visa revocation cases. However, weaknesses remain.

For example, State’s and DHS’s procedures are not fully coordinated and lack performance standards, such as specific time frames, for completing each step of the process. Outstanding legal and policy issues continue to exist regarding the removal of individuals based solely on their visa revocation. Also, as with illegal aliens who enter the United States illegally across our borders, visa overstayers are violating federal laws and should be viewed as lawbreakers.


Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, a columnist, and a contributor to the nationally syndicated talk-radio program, the Chuck Wilder Show.. He's former chief of police at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at St. Peter's University and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.

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