Immigration chaos: Millions of visa overstays add to illegal alien problem

Jim Kouri
Law Enforcement Examiner

CTCEU arrests a small portion of the estimated 4 to 5.5 million overstays in the United States because of, among other things, competing priorities, but ICE expressed an intention to augment its overstay enforcement resources.

The Government Accountability Office — the investigative service of the U.S. Congress — has in the past reported on actions that the Department of Homeland Security has taken in recent years to improve the security of the Visa Waiver Program; however, additional risks remain, according to a GAO report released this week.

In May 2011, GAO reported that DHS implemented the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), required by the 9/11 Act, and took steps to minimize the burden associated with this new program requirement. DHS requires applicants for Visa Waiver Program travel to submit biographical information and answers to eligibility questions through ESTA prior to travel. In developing and implementing ESTA, DHS made efforts to minimize the burden imposed by the new requirement.

For example, although travelers formerly filled out a Visa Waiver Program application form for each journey to the United States, ESTA approval is generally valid for 2 years. However, GAO reported that DHS had not fully evaluated security risks related to the small percentage of Visa Waiver Program travelers without verified ESTA approval.

In 2010, airlines complied with the requirement to verify ESTA approval for almost 98 percent of Visa Waiver Program passengers prior to boarding, but the remaining 2 percent — about 364,000 travelers — traveled under the program without verified ESTA approval. In May 2011, GAO reported that DHS had not yet completed a review of these cases to know to what extent they pose a risk to the program and recommended that it establish time frames for regular review. DHS concurred and has since established procedures to review a sample of noncompliant passengers on a quarterly basis…

The article continues at the Examiner.


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