JUNE 05, 2006
The troubling negligence of a U.S. government agency has been overlooked with all the talk of building a fence to protect the country’s borders from illegal immigrants since millions of them never sneaked in to begin with. It turns out that nearly half of the illegal immigrants in this country entered it legally with a U.S.-issued visa. Problem is, they never left and the agency in charge of tracking them never bothered to find them.
A nonprofit organization dedicated to Hispanic issues in the U.S. has released the lengthy results of a study that reveals that nearly half of the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country entered through an airport or border crossing where they were subject to inspection by immigration officials. They had legal visas that allowed them to visit or reside in the U.S. for a limited time and have overstayed them undetected by authorities.
The Town Crier posted the recent Congressional testimony of a former immigration official who points out that the issue of aliens who enter our country through ports of entry and subsequently overstay or otherwise violate the terms of admission, is an issue that is often neglected if not totally overlooked.
The agency responsible for tracking and deporting those who “overstay” their visa is the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whose mission is to protect America and uphold public safety by eliminating vulnerabilities that pose a threat to our nation’s borders. The agency also claims to target illegal workers and ensures that every alien who has been ordered removed departs the U.S. immediately.
Why, then, are there an estimated 5 million people in the country with expired visas? It turns out that immigration officials don’t bother tracking the problem and rarely compare entry and exit information to see who should have left the U.S. One ICE official claimed that there are no annual reports on visa overstays because “obviously these people are hiding and don’t want to be found.”
Certainly, that statement isn’t consistent with the agency’s reason for existing. ICE was created to more effectively enforce our immigration and customs laws after the September 11 terrorist attacks and is billed as the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative branch.
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