This is a raw and bad joke on the American people. 3.6 million Visa overstays!
Aired Oct. 24, 2005
And millions of foreigners in this country illegally, not because they crossed our borders illegally, but because their visas have expired. You'll be shocked -- I think you will be shocked to hear just how few immigration officials we have assigned to track down all of those people with expired visas.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Visa holders who overstay exit date in this country can easily disappear into American life with little risk from immigration authorities. A report from the Homeland Security inspector general estimates at least 3.6 million illegal aliens are people here who overstayed their visas. Yet last year, there were only 51 agents dedicated to tracking visa violators.
REP. J.D. HAYWORTH, (R) ARIZONA: If there are so-called good people overstaying their visas, there are really bad people too. And more than just your garden variety of criminal, probably in that group, sad to say, are those folks who belong to terrorist cells who mean to do us harm.
ROMANS: Immigration and Customs Enforcement received more than 300,000 leads last year on visa violators. The inspector general found authorities investigated just over 4,000 and apprehended only 671.
The report found, quote, "efforts to identify visa violators and overstays results in few apprehensions. And actual removal of visa violators is minuscule." ICE counters that it's numbers are slightly higher. It says its apprehended 1400 visa violators and thousands of additional investigations are under way.
Still, the inspector general found investigations, when they occur, can take up to two months because of vague performance measures and inefficiency in the work flow process. Work flow in the two-year- old agency that looks like this.
The report finds "these delays allow visa violators to avoid apprehension and disappear into the U.S. population."
ICE defends its compliance enforcement unit by saying it was created only after September 11 to target national security threats.
Quote, "there are millions of leads, where do you start? With a dishwasher or with someone with a HAZMAT license and access to a port?"
ROMANS: ICE says the unit has apprehended a fuel truck driver with a HAZMAT license and a member of a terrorist organization and wanted sex offenders. ICE says, at the time of the inspector general's report last year, the agency was funded for only 50 positions to track down the high risk visa violators. Today there are more than 230 personnel in that unit.
And, ICE says, contrary to the inspector general's report, this unit is not the only one arresting visa violators, they say any immigration agent can. But keep in mind, there are at least 3.6 million people in this country who overstayed their visa a couple of hundred, a couple of thousand agents, you're not going to do much good on that.
DOBBS: Our federal employees do a magnificent job, but to ask 51 or 70 or 200 and some odd men and women to go after 3.6 million illegal aliens who have overstayed their visa, the visa that have expired, that absurdity even by federal government standards.
ROMANS: And Congressman J.D. Hayworth pointed out, it's public policy triage that they have to just go after the high risk individuals, because there are simply so many, there's no way humanly possible, you could be effective at that job. That's what Congressman Hayworth said. But he also points out that you don't know who is a public -- who is a risk. You just don't know, with 301,000 leads just for this one unit last year, any one of those could have been a risk.
DOBBS: So we're at a situation now where the federal government, not the State Department, not Homeland Security, not any department knows where those 3.6 million people are. They don't know where the database leads them. They don't know which database they're in, nor how to track them, and we only have fewer than 300 people at least to go after 3.6 million people.
ROMANS: In some cases, these are just closed because they don't have an address on record for some of these people, according to the inspector general.
DOBBS: And it takes how long to grant a visa and how long to run down one of these so-called overstays -- I love that word, overstay.
ROMANS: It takes about 30 minutes to grant a legal permanent residency, a green card. It takes about two months to investigate whether somebody overstayed, if there is an investigation.
DOBBS: We won't do the extrapolation on two months for each of 3.6 million violators, but that is remarkable. This is a government that's out of control, an immigration policy that doesn't exist. And one of the most, I think, criminally negligent attitudes on the part of this administration toward national security. This is nothing more than a raw and bad joke on the American people.
ROMANS: Can you imagine if you're one of these people out there and it's your job to track these people down? And you just, you know.
DOBBS: It's insufferable. The position we're putting them in, and the position we're putting the lives and the well-being of Americans in. It shouldn't be tolerated, but that it goes on is abysmal. Christine Romans, as always, thank you.
That brings us to the topic of our poll tonight -- do you believe the Department of Homeland Security should immediately learn the identity and location of those whose visas have expired, to assure our national security? Vote yes or no, cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here in just a matter of moments.