October 22, 2005


Report Finds U.S. Failing on Overstays of Visas (ERIC LIPTON, 10/22/05, NY Times)

The Department of Homeland Security far too frequently fails to follow up on leads that foreign visitors have overstayed their visas, the agency's inspector general says in a new report.

The result is an enforcement system that poses little threat of repercussions for tourists, students and others who quietly turn into illegal immigrants, the report says.

Of the 301,046 leads the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency received in 2004 on possible visa violators, the report says, only 4,164 were formally pursued, resulting in just 671 apprehensions.

And while some of those cases are still pending, the inspector general, Richard L. Skinner, predicted that a "minuscule" number of these individuals were ever likely to face deportation, an action generally taken only if a person has a criminal history and is detained.

The study estimates that the visa overstay population in the United States is at least 3.6 million people, out of an estimated 9 million to 10 million illegal immigrants. Yet nationally, only 51 full-time agents in the special enforcement unit of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency were assigned in 2004 to work on these cases, the report says.

Note that the same folks whining about W being a big spender generally want to close the borders--let's see them propose the taxes, spending, and increase in the size and scope of government to do it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2005 8:11 AM

If we're serious about it I'd suggest we establish a draft with 3 months basic military training and 9 months service in the "Home Guard" with no exclusions. Alternative service could be considered. This organization would not be a part of the all volunteer Armed Forces, which in turn could accept qualified volunteers from the Home Guard upon completing basic. Home Guards, by law, would serve only within the USA.

Posted by: Genecis at October 22, 2005 10:46 AM

Quite the straw man, even for Mr. Judd.

1) In the scope of what's being spent on other things, the money to fund this kind of enforcement is noise. Drop a few bridges to nowhere and the funding issue is taken care of.

2) How does this increase the size or scope of the government? The government is already doing this, just not very well. Even libertarians think that this is precisely the kind of thing the government should be doing.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 22, 2005 10:52 AM


I doubt if the problem is with libertarians. When the first grad student with the wrong last name or wrong family address back home gets yanked from class for deportation, the left will erupt. Or if someone is sent back and winds up dead for being "pro-American", the same result.

But to increase the amount of investigative follow-ups 80-fold might cost more than $300 million, not to mention the bureaucratic nightmare of examining each and every case (can you spell immigration hearing?). However, it would show seriousness in an area that really needs it.

But, a few high-profile deportations is all it might take to scare the majority of expired visa holders to 'fess up and apply for extensions. Then all we would need to do is chase the ones who don't call in.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 22, 2005 12:03 PM

Pass legislation that says, if you're caught in the US illegally, then all of your assets will be confiscated, and then you will be deported. Try that for a while.

Posted by: AllenS at October 22, 2005 1:06 PM

Here's an easy one: any state or locality that does not turn over to the feds illegal aliens who have been arrested gets no federal money for any law enforcement purpose.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 22, 2005 2:04 PM

How about putting a $100 bounty on the whereabouts of the list of visa violators. Post the list. If they violated the terms of their visa, no hearing would be required.

Posted by: Kurt at October 22, 2005 2:33 PM

Laws that aren't going to be enforced should be repealed, not left there as "gotchas".

The miniscule number of visa violations being investigated and resolved can't help but lead one to wonder how selective that enforcement is. Are these Capone style apprehensions, where they couldn't make any other charge stick, or worse, vendetta types where the person has come to the attention of some powerful figure or the press.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 22, 2005 5:46 PM


Helpful to have them so we can deport actual undesirables.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2005 8:25 PM

Well, if expediency is a justification, then let's just criminalize everything. We can even make the general principle succinct: "What isn't expressly permitted is forbidden."

I'm beginning to wonder if maybe the accusations of your being a closet Leftist are true.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 23, 2005 5:11 PM