As many as 1 in 3 illegal residents arrive in the United State legally and overstay their visas. The entire spectrum of visas issued is subject to constant abuse. Given that millions are handed out annually, that’s a big problem. Once visa holders overstay, they become aliens. But that doesn’t keep them from blending into society, taking jobs, enrolling their children in school and increasing an already too large population.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security reviewed 1.6 million cases of foreigners suspected of remaining in the United States after their visas expired. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered the analysis as part of the 9/11 tenth anniversary policy update.
DHS officials told Congress that more than half of them (834,000) have either left the country or obtained legal immigration status. That’s your classic good news, bad news scenario; good that some left, bad that others (who knows their intentions?) are permanent residents.
In fact, department officials using intensive electronic screening techniques estimate that among the remaining half of the cases involving foreigners who could still be in the country about 2,000 pose a potential national security or public safety threat.
After further investigation, DHS opened "several hundred" new reviews. The department said its priority is to detect and prosecute "high-risk" immigrants.
Speaking before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Ms. Napolitano said her department is moving on a "fast track" to create a nationwide electronic exit system to determine when foreigners leave the country.
During the hearings, officials said the investigation showed that the DHS has developed technology to track foreigners in the United States to determine if they had left when their visas expired. The new electronic search methods would greatly improve the ability to identify and punish those who overstay visas.
Edward Alden, a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow, said: "Officials are saying they are now going to be able to determine on a real-time basis who has overstayed visas" and noted that that the Obama administration is working toward creating a more easily manageable exit system.
All this is well and good. Why not expand it to include aliens who are not "high risk?" Napolitano applies a limited definition to "risk." She equates risk with terrorism. My broader definition includes American citizens who "risk" unemployment, parents who "risk" inadequate educations given to their children, and patients who "risk" waiting for hours at the emergency room—all "risks" created by visa violators who don’t go home.
The chance of Americans being victimized by social "risks" from visa fraud is much greater than their risk of being terrorism targets.