Opinion

Fumbling on visa overstays

Given more than 500,000 U.S. visa “overstays” in 2015, a House committee wants the Department of Homeland Security to produce a more accurate record on these interlopers.

What’s needed is what was called for in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act: an electronic entry/exit system. Yet decades later, implementing this system is paid lip service by politicians.

In a letter to Homeland Security, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is demanding more accurate reporting on the number of visa overstays, which some immigration watchers insist was low-balled. Those same critics also remind that four of the 9/11 jetliner hijackers overstayed their visas. Of the visa applications that could be found for the 19 hijackers, none had been properly filled out.

Even after 9/11 and the recommendation by the 9/11 Commission for a biometric entry/exit system, the foot-dragging continues. Although funds reportedly have been appropriated, no system has been put in place.

Meanwhile, it’s estimated that up to 40 percent of illegal aliens entered the United States by visa, then simply ignored the expiration date, reports Genevieve Wood for The Daily Signal.

Three successive U.S. presidents have all dropped the ball on visa enforcement, pre- and post-9/11. The incoming president must pick it up.

The above editorial appeared in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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