The problem of illegal immigration is bigger than the issue of unauthorized entry of people, through the southern border, into the United States. There are also those who enter the United States legally, after obtaining visas, and do not leave the country after their visas expire. They continue to remain in the United States, illegally.

Earlier this year, I published a blog post that discussed the problem of visa overstays based on past data. Just a few days ago, Fox News reported that the Department of Homeland Security released new data, which show that over 700,000 foreign nationals overstayed their visas in 2017. The recent report from DHS clearly suggests that the problem is not becoming smaller or less intense, as more and more people remain in the United States beyond the length of time permitted by the government.

Some argue that the real problem is not the southern border, but visa overstay. I disagree. The problem is the same – violation of our country’s immigration laws, whether it is through illegal entry or through visa overstay. To address the problem of illegal entry and/or stay in the United States, our country’s immigration laws must be strictly enforced.

The United States of America is a welcoming country. We let foreign nationals into the country for tourism, business, jobs, cultural exchange, etc. America also allows foreign nationals into the United States for permanent residency, and grants citizenship to many. I know, because I came to the United States legally, had a Green Card for years, and then became a naturalized United States citizen. There are established channels with proper rules to come into the United States, for temporary stay or to be here permanently. Yet many foreign nationals violate our immigration laws.

What is particularly sad in the case of visa overstay is that these are people who were authorized by the United States to enter the country legally, and in return these foreign nationals violated the terms of their visas to remain in America illegally. Such violation can lead to erosion of trust and perhaps stronger scrutiny of visa applicants and/or tightening of rules and regulations by the United States government. Furthermore, large volume of overstays can also lead to negative public image and bad reputation for the countries from where people are coming into the United States and staying beyond the permitted length of time.

We must secure the border, and incentives to illegally enter and/or stay in the United States must be removed. It is not a simple problem to solve, but we must work towards a solution.

Fox News report on visa overstay:

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