Monday, March 31, 2008

Many illegals arrive with travel permission, but never leave

A new study published by the Center for Immigration Studies finds as many as half of the United States' 12 million illegal immigrants arrived legally with temporary nonimmigrant visas. The study says that as many as two-thirds of Mexican applicants and 88 percent of Russian applicants were granted tourist visas in 2007.

'Our immigration crisis has three main problems,' said David Seminara, the study's author. 'Our borders aren't secure, it's too easy to obtain visas overseas, and once foreigners arrive in the U.S. with visas, it is far too easy for foreign nationals to extend their stays indefinitely by adjusting their visa status or staying illegally.'

Most lawmakers promoting immigration reform overlook the problem of overstaying visas. But reform in this area of immigration policy is equally as vital as protecting the borders.

'Indeed, the plans of visa applicants change frequently, and those changes frequently involve overstaying visas,' Seminara said. 'Only tiny portions of those who overstay visas are ever deported.'

Seminara offers lawmakers and lobbyists a few recommendations that may help decrease the number of illegal immigrants who overstay their visa duration, such as creating a new corps of consular officers in the Department of Homeland Security whose focus would be strictly law enforcement and refocusing visa adjudication. Such changes will benefit U.S. economy by 'improving the integrity of our immigration system, reducing the fiscal burden of illegal immigration, and enhancing national security,' Seminara said.

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