Possibly over 1.5 million people here on “overstayed” visas

Posted on May 4, 2011

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Great news considering five of the 9/11 hijackers were here on overstayed visas as well.  Apparently we still have a lot of changes to make in order to fix a problem that’s now survived longer than Osama Bin Laden:

(Reuters) – U.S. authorities are facing a huge backlog of records involving people who have stayed in the United States after their visas expired, according to a report released on Tuesday, revealing that a security gap has not been fixed since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT system had a backlog of some 1.6 million records of potential visa overstays as of January 2011, said the report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm.


“It is simply unacceptable that we are still unable to systematically identify people who overstay — some of whom may be terrorists waiting to attack innocent Americans,” Joe Lieberman, an Independent who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

Agreeing with Senator Lieberman here, what exactly HAS the Department of Homeland Security been doing all these years about this problem?  The feds say instead of tracking everyone down, they’re concentrating their efforts on a select group of folks:

A spokesman for Napolitano said the agency gives priority to removing illegal immigrants who are a national security risk, are convicted criminals or pose other threats to public safety. (emphasis mine)

“We pursue overstay cases based on these priorities — including by fully investigating 100 percent of overstay cases that have a nexus to national security and serious criminal acts,” DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler said.

Understanding the logic of prioritizing the riskier cases, I still have to ask this obvious question:  Why are the convicted criminals they are trying to track down still here in the first place?  Aren’t these folks supposed to be deported if they commit an egregious act?  Does this mean these criminals were allowed to come here on a visa after already committing a crime, or does it mean they committed a crime here and were let loose to walk the streets again?  Either way it makes our government look ineffective in their efforts to keep U.S. citizens safe. 

The only other option would be that these people lied when applying for a visa.  But this scenario also makes the government look clueless because they apparently wouldn’t be doing an adequate job on background checks which would reveal the applicant’s criminal record before the visa was issued.

None of these explanations are acceptable and they might possibly be putting us all in jeopardy.