Visa Overstays: A Gap in the Nation’s Border
After decades, and billions of dollars, a major terror vulnerability still persists.
A recent headline blared: Secretary of Homeland Security head says terror situation is scarier than you know.
However, the situation at the Department of Homeland Security that the Trump administration inherited when it took office is so dire, that I refer to the DHS as the “Department of Homeland Surrender.”
Unquestionably the Obama administration did incalculable damage to the security of our borders and the enforcement of our immigration laws, however, for decades a series of administrations, led by presidents from both parties, have sought to undermine national sovereignty in their push for globalism.
In my judgement, many components of the immigration system have been rendered dysfunctional with the intentional purpose of flooding America with ever increasing foreign tourists, foreign students and a veritable army of cheap and exploitable labor that displaces Americans workers and drives down the wages of those Americans fortunate enough to keep their jobs.
This is not only in the economic bottom rung jobs but, increasingly, within the high-tech industries as well.
I support my claim by providing at the end of my article, outrageous findings of the Office of Inspector General who lays out, in has May 23, 2017 report, information about a level of dysfunction in a component of national security that could not be created by accident or incompetence.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, the very structure of the DHS, as implemented by the administration of President George W. Bush, in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 appears to have been designed to hobble any efforts to secure our borders and/or enforce our immigration laws.
On May 5, 2005, approximately 44 months after the attacks of 9⁄11, the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims conducted a hearing on the topic, “New “Dual Missions” Of The Immigration Enforcement Agencies.”
There is a parallel that must be drawn in considering that the hearing was conducted 44 months after the attacks. It took the United States and its allies 44 months to defeat the Axis nations during the Second World War.
In order to achieve that incredible success our nation and its allies built fleets of aircraft of brand new designs that had not existed before. Fleets of ships and even nuclear weapons with brand new and un-proven technology.
On September 11, 2001 nineteen terrorists, barely out of their teens, were able to cause more casualties than did the Japanese fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Yet tracking the arrival and departure of aliens who were legally admitted into the United States is beyond the grasp of the nation that more than 40 years ago repeatedly launched astronauts to the moon and returned them all safely to the earth.
Rep. John Hostettler was the chairman of that subcommittee at the time of that hearing and his courageous prepared statement at that hearing included the following disturbing conclusion:
At no time during the reorganization planning was it anticipated by the Committee that an immigration enforcement agency would share its role with other enforcement functions, such as enforcement of our customs laws. This simply results in the creation of dual or multiple missions that the act sought to avoid in the first place.
Failure to adhere to the statutory framework established by HSA (Homeland Security Act) has produced immigration enforcement incoherence that undermines the immigration enforcement mission central to DHS, and undermines the security of our Nation’s borders and citizens.
I was one of the witnesses at that hearing and included information about that hearing in my previous article Immigration Failure - By Design which explored how these failures were created and exacerbated to meet the demands of the globalist immigration anarchists.
These failures not only facilitate the entry of foreign workers, students and tourists but transnational criminals and international terrorists.
However, as long as politicians, acting on behalf of various supremely greedy special interest groups including the United States Chamber of Commerce and its corporate allies, that are more focused on head counts on airliners than body counts in the morgue, our immigration failures will not be effectively addressed.
An area of vulnerability that was addressed by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 was the need to track the arrival and departure of nonimmigrant aliens to determine if those nonimmigrant (temporary) foreign visitors departed the United States as required by the terms of their admission into the United States.
This legislation was enacted just years after two deadly terror attacks were carried out in the United States by Middle Eastern aliens in 1993. In January of that year CIA officials were gunned down at CIA Headquarters by Kansi, a Pakistani citizen who entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa and went on to apply for political asylum.
The following month the first bombing at the World Trade Center left six dead, more than 1,000 people injured and devastated that iconic complex of buildings, inflicting approximately a half billion dollars in damages.
Yet the tracking of nonimmigrant aliens was not implemented.
The 9⁄11 Commission established tracking the arrival and departure of nonimmigrant aliens as a vital component of national security.
That report provided a bit of insight into the wrangling that went on to award that contract to Accenture the company that would go on to “distinguish itself” when it attempted to create a website for Obama Care.
As to the magnitude of the contract, Government Executive Magazine reported, Accenture wins $10 billion US VISIT contract.
Yet in March 2013, nine years after giving that contract to Accenture, the goals of tracking the arrival and departure of nonimmigrant aliens was still not accomplished. Consequently the DHS renamed the program, giving it the title, Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM).
On May 22, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security issued a press release, DHS Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. The press release provided note the nexus between national security and the ability to effectively track the arrival and departure of aliens.
This excerpt illustrates part of the magnitude of the challenges we face:
The report specifies that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processed 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions at U.S. air and sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY16—of which 739,478 overstayed their admission, resulting in a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent. Of the more than 739,000 overstays, DHS determined 628,799 were suspected “in-country” overstays, resulting in a suspected in-country overstay rate of 1.25 percent. An individual who is a suspected in-country overstay has no recorded departure, while an out-of-country overstay has a recorded departure that occurred after their lawful admission period expired.
There was no mention, however, about aliens who are admitted or depart through land borders.
That issue and others were raised in the report issued on May 23, 2017 by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report, “Visa Overstays: A Gap in the Nation’s Border.
These findings included in this report will likely keep you awake. That these failures have not been addressed goes beyond mere incompetence:
The results of our audit revealed that DHS’ information technology (IT) systems do not effectively support U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) visa tracking operations for the following reasons:
Identifying and investigating potential visa overstays requires pulling data from dozens of systems and databases, some of which are not integrated and do not electronically share information;
Access to real-time data is mired by system access restrictions, the need to retain up to 40 passwords, and systems that are not updated;
ICE personnel do not have the training and guidance they need to effectively identify and utilize the myriad systems currently available for visa overstay tracking; and
In the absence of a comprehensive biometric exit system at U.S. ports, DHS relies on third-party departure data, which is not always accurate and fails to capture land departure data, which accounts for the vast majority of visitors exiting the United States.
These deficiencies have significant real-world impact, including:
A backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases;
Considerable resources wasted investigating thousands of leads that should have been ruled out as visa overstays (e.g., individuals who already left the country or applied for / received immigration benefits);
Arrests of less than 0.4% of the individuals who potentially overstayed their visas; and
Congress receiving DHS visa overstay reports that underestimate and distort the true scope of the visa overstay problem.
Until the Department properly equips its personnel with the tools and training required for the vital work of tracking visitors who overstay their visas, timely identification, investigation, and adjudication of visa overstays will not be possible, increasing the risk to public safety and national security.
Our “leaders” have squandered billions of dollars, but more importantly, they have squandered many years. Time is not on our side.
Politicians, on every level of government, and corporations and their executives who are awarded contracts for national security-related programs must be made truly accountable.
National security is serious business- deadly serious business.