Audit Finds DHS Seldom Tracks People Overstaying Visas
MCALLEN – A new audit shows a federal agency is catching less than one percent of people whose visas have expired.
The report states the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has insufficient technology to crack down on these cases, causing a backlog of more than 1.2 million cases.
The Center for Migration Studies said the visa overstays trend is expected to continue.
Robert Warren, senior fellow at Center for Migration Studies, recently wrapped up a report detailing the numbers.
“What we found in the last few years approximately two thirds of undocumented immigrants who arrive in the United States are people who are overstaying temporary visas,” he said. “There is a very big misconception about the nature of undocumented immigration into this country.”
Warren and his partner also found 600,000 more people overstayed their visas than those arriving through the southern border since 2007.
“The main reason is really that the number coming across the southern border has dropped dramatically,” he said.
Warren, a former employee of Immigration and Naturalization Service what is now known as ICE, admitted tracking is a tough job.
The audit states information on visa holders is held in 27 DHS information technology systems. It also found one of those systems communicate with each other.
Although DHS explained the number of visa overstays is only a fraction of people in the country illegally, the impact can be dangerous. Two of the 19 hijackers from the September 11 attacks had expired visas.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS found Maria Sala waiting for her daughter outside the Mexican consulate in McAllen.
“Right now she’s getting a permit to work in the United States and that’s why she is here trying to get the matricula,” she said.
Sala said she advised her daughter against getting a visa.
“You can only stay in the country, I think, 72 hours with that visa,” she said.
The mother said the process of renewing a visa is tedious and often not successful.
Anyone caught with an expired visa can face a number of consequences. They can range from your visa being automatically voided, permanent visa ineligibility or ineligibility for a number of years.