Forty Percent of Illegal Immigrants Here on Expired Visas

Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013 12:01 PM

By Dan Weil

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An estimated 40 percent of illegal immigrants in the United States arrived here with an authorized visa, which could pose a problem for Congress and the White House as they grapple with immigration reform issues.

Though there are no official figures on how many people in the U.S. have expired visas, The Wall Street Journal reports, the most commonly cited figures are 4 million to 5 million people, based on a 2006 study by the Pew Hispanic Center. But it’s not clear how reliable those numbers are because the government does not have a system for tracking visitors who stay past their visa expiration date.

Senators are discussing an immigration overhaul plan that would require the government to follow visa violators by creating a tracking system that actually works.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a fingerprinting system was set up to identify foreigners when they enter our borders. Congress authorized a similar system to track exits, but it was never set up because it's costly and difficult to implement.

Now the issue is being looked at again.

"We need a visa-tracking system,'' Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh recently. Rubio is a member of the Group of Eight senators trying to come up with a bipartisan solution to immigration issues.

"We don't track people when they leave,” Rubio said. “We only track them when they come in." He said an immigration bill won’t draw his support unless "enforcement mechanisms are in place."



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